Marshall Lab: Ecology and conservation of primates and tropical forests

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We study a range of topics on different species at multiple sites. We are united by an interest in using ecological theory to address theoretical and applied questions in tropical ecology, conservation, primatology, and biological anthropology.

Andy Marshall

Andy cropped

I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Biological Wing of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. After finishing my undergraduate work in 1996, I spent a year living in Indonesian Borneo managing Cheryl Knott’s long- term orangutan research project and working for National Geographic. I returned to Harvard in 1997 to do my PhD with Mark Leighton and Richard Wrangham. While in graduate school I did fieldwork on apes in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo before returning to Kalimantan to study gibbons and leaf monkeys. During my fieldwork I became interested in botany and plant ecology, and upon completion of my PhD in 2004 I did a two-year post doc at The Arnold Arboretum in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard. From 2006 to 2014 I served on the faculty at the University of California, Davis in Anthropology, Ecology, and Animal Behavior. I joined the faculty at Michigan in 2014. My main research site is Gunung Palung National Park, located in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. I am also involved in mammal and forest conservation initiatives at several other sites in Indonesia. This is a reasonable introduction to my field site and my personal perspective on conservation and research.

Current students (alphabetically by last name)

Andrew Bernard (Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan)

Andrew_BernardI am interested in the connections between ecology, conservation, and human culture and behavior. I draw from field experience in South America, New Zealand, and East and Central Africa to stimulate my research in understanding and preserving various dynamic ecosystems.






Dena Clink (Department of Anthropology, UC Davis, co-advised by Dr. Meg Crofoot)

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My dissertation research focuses on East Bornean gray gibbon (Hylobates funereus) ecology. Specifically, I am interested in quantifying geographic variation in gibbon vocalizations, and understanding how environmental factors influence this variation. I am also working to quantify individual differences in gibbon vocalizations using a technique called vocal fingerprinting. I plan to use vocal fingerprinting to track and monitor individual gibbons in disturbed landscapes over time. In addition, my dissertation will also include a section that estimates gibbon density in degraded and relatively pristine forest types. The East Bornean gray gibbon was recently designated a separate species from the Muller’s Bornean gibbon (Hylobates muelleri), and my research is some of the first on this particular gibbon species.

Gene Estrada (Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan)

I am broadly interested in the effects of anthropogenic change, such as habitat fragmentation and degradation, on primate species, and understanding how primates respond to these changes.
My recent work has focused on the spatial analysis of ranging behavior of sympatric tamarin species in the Peruvian Amazon.




Ben Finkel (Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan)

Bfinkel_photoI ask questions on how wild primates navigate their ecological and social environments, in particular the trade-offs they may face. I hope to explore the role nutrition plays in generating evolutionary forces. In general, I want to use primates as models for hominid evolution and to promote biodiversity conservation through my research. I draw on my experiences studying owl monkey behavioral ecology at Yale and primate cognition at Duke University. Other interests include conservation psychology, audio journalism, and science literacy.




Swapna Nelaballi (Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan)

Swapna NelaballiAs part of my PhD research, I am trying to understand the impacts of hunting on ecosystem services. Unsustainable hunting has depleted animal populations in tropical forests worldwide, disrupting ecological interactions that maintain critical ecosystem services. These changes have profound impacts on multiple scales. Locally, communities suffer from the loss of food, fresh water, and other vital services; globally, climate is affected because depleted forests sequester less carbon. Mitigating these impacts requires an understanding of both critical ecological interactions and the social, economic, and cultural factors that drive over-exploitation of natural resources. My multidisciplinary research will incorporate ecological, socio-economic and human behavioral sciences to aid in developing novel solutions that meet the competing needs of humans and wildlife.







Past students

Chris Dillis (Animal Behavior Graduate Group, UC Davis)

Lydia Beaudrot (Ph.D. 2014, Graduate Group in Ecology, UC Davis)

Dissertation: Determinants of tropical vertebrate community composition

Katie Feilen (Ph.D. 2014, Department of Anthropology, UC Davis)

Dissertation: Feeding Ecology and Sleeping Site Selection of Proboscis Monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Cori McLean (Boyko) (M.A. 2009, Department of Anthropology, UC Davis)

Ryan Boyko (M.A. 2009, Department of Anthropology, UC Davis; M. Sc. 2009, Graduate Group in Ecology, UC Davis)

M.Sc. Thesis: The willing cuckold: Optimal paternity allocation, infanticide and male reproductive strategies in mammals