Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Altmann, Jeanne
Location Princeton University
Primary Field Anthropology
Secondary Field Environmental Sciences and Ecology
 Election Citation
Altmann pioneered the quantitative study of ecology, demography, and genetics of wild primates. She carried out pioneering work on selection pressures on mothers and established the baseline against which primate life history studies are compared. Her current research centers on the magnitude and sources of variability in primate life histories, parental care, and behavioral ontogeny.
 Research Interests
As a behavioral ecologist with focus on long-lived and highly social mammals, I concentrate on the reciprocal relationships between variability in behavior and ecology on the one hand and variability in survival and reproduction on the other, within natural populations. Consequently, one major research effort has been development of widely applicable non-invasive and non-manipulative techniques for data collection and the use of such data. We have recently extended this effort from behavior and demography to DNA and steroid hormones, enabling us to 'get under the skin' without disturbing either behavior or sensitive physiological processes. Our empirical research, conducted in close collaboration with US and Kenyan associates, involves almost daily data collection on the Amboseli population of baboons-large primates that share many traits with humans and that are increasingly a model species for large mammal integrative biology. Our database is now three-decades and six-generations deep. Finding from several recent studies include that fathers in this highly polygynandrous species exhibit true paternal care, that variability in females' sociality predicts survival of their infants, and that differences in energetic balance result primarily from differences in activity, not in nutrient intake, and result in physiological differences that in humans predict morbidity and mortality.

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