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Jeanne Altmann

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Position: Emeritus Professor
Title: Eugene Higgins Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
  • Behavior
  • Conservation
  • Ecology
Field: Animal behavior & physiology
Office: 401 Guyot Hall
Phone: 609-258-3814
Jeanne Altmann


  My research deals with life history approaches to behavioral ecology and with nonexperimental research design. Most of my empirical work has been carried out on the baboons of Amboseli National Park, Kenya, for which longitudinal studies have been conducted since 1971. We emphasize an integrated, holistic approach by carrying out concurrent studies of behavior, ecology, demography, genetics, and physiology at the level of individuals, social groups, and populations.
   Current research centers on the magnitude and sources of variability in primate life histories, parental care, and behavioral ontogeny. For baboons, we are analyzing sources of variability within groups and examining patterns in their stability among groups and populations and across time. In one series of studies we are interested in the extent to which various life-history and developmental parameters are food-limited. In others, we are examining empirically and theoretically the effects of social structure within groups on demographic processes within and among groups and across generations. Recently, my collaborators and I have been conducting studies that relate endocrine and genetic data to demographic and behavioral information for the same individuals in the Amboseli baboon population.
   In studies of monogamous Peromyscus in captivity, we are investigating behavioral causes and consequences of inbreeding depression and of mate choice. Initial studies examined behavioral risk factors and experimentally separated effects of parental and offspring inbreeding on inbreeding depression. Subsequent research has investigated fitness consequences of mate choice and its physiological correlates.