Fighting to Understand the Scientific Impact of Community

Fighting to Understand the Scientific Impact of Community from Notre Dame University.

The University of Notre Dame’s award-winning “What Would You Fight For?” series showcases the work, scholarly achievements, and global impact of Notre Dame faculty, students, and alumni. These two-minute segments, each originally aired during a home football game broadcast on NBC, highlight the University’s proud moniker, the Fighting Irish, and tell the stories of the members of the Notre Dame family who fight to bring solutions to a world in need.


Meet the researchers

Meet the Researchers from Grand Passage Media Inc. by George Flak, Caitlin Starowicz and Mark Starowicz on Vimeo.


Adversity, Belonging, and Survival among Baboons

A public talk Susan gave at the Harvard Museum of Science and Culture


The baboon troop

An old Amboseli video by Irv DeVore with was part of the curriculum Man: A Course of Study (MACOS). The movie was created for the social studies curriculum and was created by the NSF and the Ford foundation. 

ABRP GPS tracking of baboon social groups

For nearly 900 days, beginning in March 2008, the Amboseli Baboon Research Project tracked the daily travel of 5 yellow baboon social groups. Using pre-programmed GPS collars, we automatically recorded the hourly locations of each social group from 6am until 7pm. Through this study and other ABRP projects, we're gaining insight into how social and ecological factors influence the movement patterns of wild primates. 

A wounded baboon male

While observing the Amboseli baboons, we watch for and note wounds and pathologies. This male has been wounded, causing him to limp. 

Wounds like this can make it difficult for a baboon to do lots of everyday things. He may have trouble getting enough food. It might become hard for him to flee from predators, or to keep up with his group as they travel. He may even be less able to defend himself or his consorts from other baboons.

Young baboons playing

Just like human children, baboon juveniles like to play together!

Baboons eating meat

In addition to whatever fruits and other plants that a baboon eats, baboons also eat meat. They eat whatever meat they can find, including birds, eggs, hares, vervet monkeys, and gazelles (as shown here).

Morning grove descent

At the end of each day, a baboon group will stop at a grove of trees and ascend into its branches, where they'll spend the night safe from predators. The group descends in the morning, roughly near sunrise. When possible, we try to begin observation on a group early enough in the day to see their descent, or end observation late enough to see their ascent.

Baboon groomings

As in other primates, social interactions between baboons includes lots and lots of grooming. These interactions reinforce social bonds between individuals, and promote greater health. On average, our field observers see ~50 groomings each day.

Foraging for food

Each day, a baboon spends a significant portion of its day foraging for food, often fruits and leaves.

Drinking water

Like any other organism, baboons need to drink plenty of water. We often see them drinking from lakes and ponds, man-made water holes, or even pools of rainwater.

Consorts and Mounts

Warning for parents: certain "facts of life" are portrayed in this video! Judging by a female's swollen sex skin, a male baboon is able to recognize when she's most likely to become impregnated. During this time, a male will "consort" the female: he stays near her, mounts her often, and "guards" her from other males' attempts to do the same.

Aggressive interactions

Baboon social interactions aren't limited to grooming. There are also more agonistic, aggressive interactions that occur regularly. These may include intense bursts of violence, or more-subtle interactions like when low-ranking individuals submit or flee at the approach of higher-ranking individuals. Including these more-subtle interactions, our field observers see well over 100 agonistic interactions on average each day

Juvenile baboon nursing

A juvenile baboon usually nurses its mother for the first ~1.5 years of its life. Even when not nursing, the juvenile spends a lot of its time closely attached to its mother, as shown here.