Primate Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation


This course examines the diversity of extant, non-human primate species.

The majority of the course will be an exploration of the core topics in primate behaviour and ecology, including: diet and nutrition, predation, social structure, kinship, mating behaviour, social dominance and cognition. Furthermore, primates live in communities with other species of animals, as well as a diverse array of plant life, and therefore must be considered as a part of a broader ecological system.

We will explore the various interactions that primates have with these other species and the various roles that they play in the larger ecological community. In addition, we will examine the overarching threats to biodiversity in general, and to primates in specific. Finally, we will seek to connect research in primatology to conservation action and explore of our own species' place in the natural world.

Course objectives

1. Understand the discipline of primatology and its contribution to anthropology

2. Understand the potential, as well as the limitations, of the comparative evolutionary approach to the overarching goal of anthropology – a holistic understanding of humanity

3. Gain insight into the myriad of interactions between primates and the broader-scale ecological communities that they are a part of

4. Explore the many facets surrounding the conservation of endangered primates, including the scientific, cultural, economic and philosophical interconnections between non-human and human primates

Learning outcomes

1. Develop a working understanding of the diversity of primate taxa and evolutionary relationships within the order Primates

2. Demonstrate a familiarity of basic anatomical, physiological, and behavioural terminology

3. Effectively communicate the basics of evolutionary biology and community ecology

4. Conceptualise and critically examine the impact of human activities on biodiversity


Coursework only

Availability 2022

Not taught in 2022




Strier, K.B. (2011). Primate Behavioural Ecology, 4th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson


Coursework only


ANTHRO 349: 15 points


ANTHRO 201 or 60 points in Anthropology