Episode 140: What ecological and anthropogenic factors influence macaque social structures and disease ecology?
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For this episode, Dr. Krishna Balasubramaniam (UC Davis) takes us through his research on behavioral ecology, human-wildlife interactions, primate health and disease and primate social evolution, studying both wild species living in urban and peri-urban settings, as well as captive monkeys.
What is behavioral ecology and why are behavioral ecological questions interesting to consider for biological anthropologists? What are the ecological and anthropogenic factors that may influence group-living and social network structures in animals like macaques? How could aspects of group living and relatedness between individuals predict whether macaques share infectious pathogens and gut microbes inside them? How do primatologists collect and analyze this data, to understand the relationships between sociality and disease risk?
We also consider the human-wildlife interfacts so common in the urban and peri-urban environments of Malaysia and India. In these overlaps and interactions between humans and rhesus macaques, long-tailed macaques and bonnet macaques, how have Krishna assessed the impact of human attitudes, beliefs and experiences towards animal conservation and policy-making? What are the main challenges in Krishna's work, studying macaques both in captivity and in urban settings? Where is Krishna hoping to take his research going forward?
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