Susan Alberts was officially inducted into the National Academy of Sciences on 29 April 2022. She was elected in 2019, with the induction scheduled for April 2020, but it was postponed because of the pandemic.
Jeanne Altmann was inducted into American Philosophical Society biological sciences class.
Jenny Tung wins the MacArthur 'Genius' Grant
Tung, an associate professor in evolutionary anthropology, studies primates and has demonstrated links between social stress and immune system function in macaques. She is one of 26 winners of the prestigious Genius Grant in 2019, and the $625,000 will be paid over quarterly installments for the next five years. Read More
Susan Alberts has recently received the 2019 Distinguished Primatologist Award from the American Society of Primatologists..
The Animal ecology in focus site by the Journal of Animal Ecology published an blog post, The baboons of Amboseli, to complement the new Synthesis paper by Susan Alberts.
In a recent article published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, we showed that both feticide and infanticide occur in Amboseli following the immigration of especially aggressive males—a behavior that is more common during periods of limited reproductive opportunities and low resources. This represents the first population-wide analysis of feticide in a wild population. Read More
Public interest in social and economic equality is burgeoning. In a recent paper in PNAS that examines both nonhuman primates and humans, we measured a related phenomenon, lifespan equality – a measure of whether lifespans in a population tend to vary a lot or be similar to each other. We used data from six well-studied primate populations – our own Amboseli baboon population, and also mountain gorillas in Rwanda, chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, sifaka in Beza Mahafaly in Madagascar, muriqui monkeys in the RPPN Feliciano Miguel Abdala in Brazil, and capuchin monkeys in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica. Read More
Surviving infancy is challenging for wild primates, as decades of research on species ranging from lemurs to gorillas have revealed. For an infant baboon, surviving the first year of life requires learning to identify and successfully consume more than 250 types of food, avoiding fatal disease and predation, and perhaps most importantly identifying and avoiding dangers from other baboons both inside and outside their social group. In Amboseli, first-year mortality has averaged about 30 percent over the four decades of our study, but has climbed as high as 50 percent during difficult times. Just getting through infancy represents a huge piece of the Darwinian gauntlet that every animal must run.
In humans and other animals, harsh circumstances in early life are linked to poor health and high mortality rates in adulthood. It is thought that these effects are greatest when multiple adverse conditions occur at the same, but this hypothesis has rarely been tested. We used prospective data on 196 wild female baboons in Amboseli to show that the number of adverse circumstances that a female experiences during her juvenile years predicts how long she lives as an adult. Specifically, we examined the effects of six different adverse circumstances: (i) being born in a drought, (ii) having a low ranking mother, (iii) having a socially isolated mother, (iv) having your mother die before you reach 4 years of age (the approximate age at sexual maturity for females), (v) having a younger sibling born when you yourself are still quite young (1.5 years of age or less), and (vi) living a very large social group. Females who experience 3 or more of these adverse circumstances tend to die 10 years earlier than females who experience no adverse circumstances. For comparison, the average female, once she reaches adulthood, lives to about 18.5 years of age, so 10 years is a very large difference in the life of a female baboon.
What are the costs and benefits for animals living in groups of different sizes? Balancing the trade-offs between within-group competition (which favors smaller groups) and between-group competition (which favors larger groups) suggests that intermediate sized groups may be best, yet empirical support for this prediction has largely been lacking. Using long-term data on wild baboons, we provide novel evidence that individuals living in intermediate-sized groups have energetically optimal space-use strategies and lower glucocorticoid (stress hormone) concentrations than individuals in either large or small groups. Our results offer new insight into the costs and benefits of group living. Read More