E01: Susan Alberts on the Amboseli Baboons and Women in Primatology

The Animal Behavior Podcast

Jun 21 2021 • 37 mins


Episode Summary:

In this episode, Matthew speaks with Susan Alberts (@susan_alberts), who co-directs the Amboseli Baboon Research Project (@AmboseliBaboons), a long-term longitudinal study of wild baboons.

They start out by talking about what behavior is and why animal behavior is of particular salience.  Then they talk about the history of the Amboseli project, how Susan became involved in baboon research in the 1980s, and some notable results from the project. They also discuss the power of long-term, organism-focused research to reveal otherwise hidden insights into animal behavior.

After the break, they discuss the relationship that the baboon project has cultivated with the local Massai community and the leading role of women in primatology.

This week's Two-Minute Takeaway comes from Dr. Erin Siracusa (@erin_sira), a postdoctoral research associate with the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter, U.K. Read Erin's paper about the role of familiar neighbors in individuals' fitness outcomes here (free PDF here).

Papers relevant to today's show:

1.
For an overview of the Amboseli Baboon Research Project's history and major results (link to free PDF):

Alberts S.C., Altmann J. 2012. "The Amboseli Baboon Research Project: 40 Years of Continuity and Change". Pp 261-288 In: Long-term field studies of primates. Edited by Kappeler, P. and Watt, D.P. Spring Verlag.

2. Paper that Susan and Matthew discussed about the effect of maternal social connectedness on offspring survival (link to free PDF):

Silk J.B., Alberts S.C., Altmann J. 2003. Social bonds of female baboons enhance infant survival. Science 302:1231-1234

Credits:

The Animal Behavior Podcast is created by Matthew Zipple (@MatthewZipple) and Amy Strauss (@avstrauss). If you like what you heard, please subscribe wherever you’re listening now, leave us a rating or review, and share us with your friends and colleagues.

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The Animal Behavior Podcast is produced with support from the Animal Behavior Society(@AnimBehSociety).