Marshall Lab: Ecology and conservation of primates and tropical forests

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)


Broadly, I am interested in climate biology, elevation gradients, conservation, and primatology. My dissertation examines how modern climate change affects primates, the food they eat, and the habitats they live in. My work draws from previous field experiences in central and eastern Africa, South America, and New Zealand. I am also invested in capacity building and science communication efforts both in Michigan and abroad.




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)

I am interested in senescence, life history theory, foraging ability, and primate social behavior. For my dissertation, I study these topics in the Ngogo chimpanzees in Uganda where I ask, what are foraging challenges faced by old apes and how they solve them? I think that studying aging in our closet relatives can inform our understanding of the evolution of human longevity. I draw on my experiences studying owl monkey behavioral ecology in Argentina and primate cognition at Duke University. Other interests include food mechanical properties, conservation psychology, and science communication.


Jordan Lucore (Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan)


I aim to study ecological flexibility in non-human primates and how anthropogenic change affects the behavior and physiology of sympatric primate species. My recent work has focused on chimpanzee data management, blue monkey behavior and ecology, and female dominance in Eulemur species





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

Dena Clink (Ph.D. 2018, Department of Anthropology, UC Davis, co-advised by Dr. Meg Crofoot)

Dissertation: The evolutionary and ecological implications of variation in Bornean gibbon (Hylobates muelleri) female calls

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