Griëtte van der Heide

Hale 140

(BSc & MSc Forest and Nature Conservation, specialization forest ecology and management, 2008 Wageningen University, the Netherlands; MA Anthropology, 2015 the University of Texas at San Antonio, USA).

Griëtte is a 2020 National Geographic Explorer and PhD candidate in Biological Anthropology. For her dissertation project she explores the bottom-up effects of a tree community’s spatiotemporal composition of functional and trophic effect traits on Azara’s owl monkey (Aotus azarae azarae) diet, feeding, and nutritional ecology. Functional traits normally affect plant growth and survival, while trophic effect traits affect organisms at the next trophic level. Since primates heavily depend on plants as food in tropical forests, they are bound to respond to a tree community’s “functional landscape.” Griëtte also uses this functional forest framework to address pair-living and sexual monogamy. Her broader goals are to (1) increase our understanding of the intricate bottom-up relations between tree communities and primates, (2) greatly improve our understanding of Humid Chaco forest functioning, and (3) develop novel methods integrating drone remote sensing and canopy access/research techniques as promising tools for primate ecology and conservation projects, especially in areas lacking habituated primates.

Griëtte is currently carrying out her dissertation work at the Owl Monkey Project (PI: Dr. Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, Yale University) located in the Argentinean part of the Gran Chaco. She hopes that her study will contribute to the conservation of gallery forests and primates in this severely threatened and understudied biome in the Neotropics. Griëtte is also working more broadly (combining regional and local scales) at integrating plant phylogeny and functional ecology, including axes of diversity and scarcity, with primate ecology and diet. Her co-advisors at CU Boulder are Dr. Bert Covert and Dr. Matt Sponheimer.

When not climbing trees for research, Griëtte immerses herself in teaching “Primate Behavior” at CU Boulder or “Canopy Access Techniques” at ITEC in Panama. She furthermore facilitates tree climbs for people with a love for nature and is actively involved in promoting the benefits of forest canopy exploration.