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Biological Anthropology

The major subfields of biological anthropology are represented in the undergraduate curriculum of our Department. Namely, human variation, primatology, and paleoanthropology. At the graduate level, training in biological anthropology is focused upon primate behavioral ecology and evolution.  We accommodate graduate students whose background and interests lie in these areas, including allied topics such as primate life history, functional anatomy, and conservation. In addition, we offer a Primatology Field Methods Course at the Lemur Conservation Foundation's reserve in Myakka City, Florida, open to graduate and undergraduate students.

Our resident biological anthropologist specializes in the behavioral ecology of Malagasy lemurs and on the extinctions and development of anthropogenic landscapes and faunal assemblages during the Quaternary of Madagascar.  She has edited a volume of the American Journal of Primatology titled “Behavioral Ecology and Conservation of Ruffed Lemurs” and is co-editing the monograph series “Primate Field Studies” (Prentice Hall) focused upon long-term field studies of wild primates.  For information about the series or if you are interested in developing a monograph, please contact one of the editors (nvasey@pdx.edu or rwsussma@wustl.edu).

Recent and current graduate students have worked on taxonomy, behavioral ecology, and conservation of poorly known gibbon populations in Vietnam and Laos; functional anatomy of the breast bone in Miocene ape and subfossil lemurs; and human bone histology as an indicator of age at death. These students have expanded curriculum offerings and advising capacity through contacts with the PSU Biology Department, the Oregon Zoo, and the Anthropology Institute at the University of Zurich. Opportunities for undergraduate honors and graduate-level theses abound through affiliation with the Lemur Conservation Foundation. Current topics of study include wild food plant selection by the free-ranging lemurs at the Reserve and documenting the vocal repertoire of variegated lemurs.