The graduate program in biological anthropology at CU Boulder offers training in several areas, including primatology, human biology, and paleoanthropology. We share an interest in human ecology, the broad integrative area of anthropology that focuses on the interactions of culture, biology and the environment. We also share an interest in the processes of globalization, which are rapidly changing many aspects of the modern world. As biological anthropologists, we are well positioned to analyze the impact of globalization on the interaction between biology and behavior, and to analyze human and primate adaptations to changing environments and declining biodiversity. Our faculty research interests include:

  • anthropogenic and climatic effects on primate behavior, biology and ecology
  • general ecology
  • conservation biology
  • primate evolution
  • early hominin paleoecology
  • nutritional ecology and feeding biology of human and non-human primates
  • community ecology and plant-animal interactions
  • evolutionary ecology
  • biogeochemical techniques for studying the diets and habitats of modern and fossil fauna
  • life history
  • endocrinology
  • growth and development
  • maternal and infant health

Training & Research 

We offer training and research opportunities in several laboratories and at several field sites. These include:

The South African Galago Project (PI: Michelle Sauther)

Our project focuses on the comparative ecology, biology and behavior of both species living in an Afro-Montane forest on top of the Soutpansberg Mountain range in Northern South Africa. While nearly all primate species live in the tropics, these bushbaby species are two of the few primates that live within temperate areas outside of the tropics. Due to their dramatic size difference, they are allowing us to better understand how body size may affect their ability to deal with challenging temperate environments. As there is not much information available on how challenging environments impact primates, understanding the thermal, dietary and behavioral ecology of these two primates living in a temperate environment will be essential for addressing what factors allow primates to adjust to a changing environment and will inform how primates living in changing, fluctuating tropical environments may adapt to changes in climate in the coming years.

Growth and Development Lab (PI: Robin Bernstein)

We use enzyme immunoassay methods to measure biomarkers in blood, saliva, hair, breast milk, stool, and urine. We also use mid-infrared spectroscopy to measure macronutrients in human breast milk.  (Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry, Room 251)

  • Keneba, The Gambia: Work at this field site is carried out in collaboration with the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), The Gambia Unit and International Nutrition Group. Here, clinical and research facilities are integrated into a rural setting. Research carried out at this site by Bernstein and colleagues includes: 1) investigating the relationship between protective factors in breast milk and incidence of infant intestinal inflammation; 2) understanding the interactions between multiple physiological systems that impact infant growth in a seasonal context; and 3) the ultrafine monitoring of infant growth to interrogate the aetiology of growth stunting.
  • Robin Bernstein's website

Nutritional and Isotopic Ecology Lab (NIEL; PI: Sponheimer)

We perform nutritional, mechanical, and isotopic analyses on a broad suite of plant and animal tissues to address questions about the ecology of modern and fossil taxa. (Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry, Room 210). The lab has active projects in South Africa, Kenya, and the USA.

  • The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, South Africa: We have several projects in this area on the ecology of living and fossil mammals, both large and small. This research includes fieldwork, typically twice per year, as well as museum work throughout South Africa. These projects are typically augmented with data from our other projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, and elsewhere.

Primate Conservation and Ecology Laboratory (PI: Covert)

This is for training on the interface between primate skeletal biology and ecology.

  • Ta Kou Nature Reserve in southeastern Vietnam is home to five primate species and is a good place to investigate the ecology of black shanked doucs and Annamese silvered langurs.  The Kien Luong Karst area of southwestern Vietnam is home to Indochinese silvered langurs and long-tailed macaques and is an area that is being rapidly transformed due to mining for building materials. Covert and colleagues have ongoing research here that includes behavioral ecology of the silvered langurs and long-term conservation planning.  The Khau Ca forest area is in the northern most area of Vietnam and is home to the largest remaining population of Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys.  Covert and colleagues have ongoing research here that includes behavioral ecology, human-nonhuman primate resource utilization overlap, and genetic variation of the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey.