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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Professor Jo Setchell

(email at joanna.setchell@durham.ac.uk)

Durham Anthropology: People in Context

My research puts people in context by providing a comparative lens through which we can view the evolution of human life history and reproductive strategies. I enjoy working in a broad-based and integrative Anthropology department.

Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter

I am co-author on this article in Science Advances, by an international collaboration of 31 authors, with major press coverage (e.g., BBC Online – top story in science). For a summary and images, please see this website, and for a personal perspective please see this piece in the Conversation.

If you'd like to know how to avoid palm oil (a major contributor to primate exitinction threat), please see the ethical consumer, WWF's info, and the rainforest foundation uk.

Latest publications

Evidence that highly competitive males also show mate choice for female genotype:

Setchell JM., Richards S, Abbott K. & Knapp LA. (2016). Mate-guarding by male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) is associated with female MHC-genotype. in press in Behavioral Ecology.

A review of all my work on mandrills to date:

Setchell JM. (2016). Sexual Selection and the Differences Between the Sexes in Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 159: S105-S129.

A review of our interdisciplinary biosocial approach to conservation and three case studies. International Journal of Primatology in press.

Biography

I joined Durham Anthropology in 2007. I have a PhD in Zoology from the University of Cambridge, and made the transition into Anthropology gradually, via post-doctoral research at the Centre for Research in Evolutionary Anthropology at Roehampton University and in the Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, and a temporary lectureship at UCL Anthropology.

At Durham I teach biological and evolutionary anthropology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I obtained my Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in 2008. I won a Durham Student's Union "Super Supervisor" award in 2014 and a University "Excellence in Doctoral Supervision" award in 2015.

I am strongly committed to advancing equality and diversity in academia, and led our department's successful application for a Gender Equality Charter Mark in 2014.

I have served as Director of the MSc in Evolutionary Anthropology, Chair of the Exam Board and Director of Research in Anthropology. I am on Research Leave for the academic year 2016/17.

I enjoy outreach, including appearances in BBC2's Nature’s Weirdest Events and BBC4's "Colour: The Spectrum of Science".

Jo Setchell Durham EARG

Contributions

Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Primatology

Vice-President (Research) of the International Primatological Society

Council member, Primate Society of Great Britain

Editorial Board member, Scientific Data

Co-editor of Field & Laboratory Methods in Primatology, with Debbie Curtis

Research

Mandrills

I pursue two major areas of research. The first integrates behaviour, morphology and demographic studies with genetics, endocrinology and semiochemistry to address questions relating to reproductive strategies, life history, sexual selection and signalling in primates. The majority of this work has focused on a semifree-ranging colony of mandrills at the Centre International de Recherches Médicales, Franceville (CIRMF), Gabon. For more about my long-term studies of mandrills, please see here, and this recent review. I have also conducted primate fieldwork in Cameroon, Republic of Congo and Sabah, Malaysia.

The second area of my research involves collaboration with environmental anthropologists to address questions concerning human/wildlife interactions and biodiversity conservation. We have recently described our interdisciplinary approach and three case studies here.

I have a long-standing interest in the practice and ethics of primate research. I co-edited a book on Field and Laboratory Methods in Primatology with an explicit focus on ethics, helped to develop the International Primatological Society's Code of Best Practices in Field Primatology, and have co-authored an article with Elena P Cunnigham and Steve Unwin on "Darting Primates in the Field: A Review of Reporting Trends and a Survey of Practices and Their Effect on the Primates Involved".

For more information about Primatology in Durham, please see Durham Primatology Group.

You can find details of my publications below and on Researchgate.

Information for Prospective Students and Postdocs

Excellence award

I'm happy to supervise interns, MSc, Masters by Research and PhD students in primatology. I can provide training and projects for interns, MSc and Masters by Research students. I am happy to work with applicants who share my research interests to develop a proposal.

See here for a PhD project combining fieldwork on mandrills with laboratory analyses of telomeres. This is part of the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Click for information about the MSc in Evolutionary Anthropology; post-graduate funding, and fees and living costs.

There's information about a variety of postdoctoral fellowship opportunities here. I prioritise applications which relate to and build on my own research.

Current Post docs

  • Dr Sharon Kessler began a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship on disease recognition in primates in January 2017

Past post-docs

  • Dr Esther Clarke: COFUND Junior Research Fellowship "Primate vocalisations as sexual signals". Esther is now an Honorary Researcher in Anthropology at Durham.
  • Dr Stefano Vaglio: Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships for Career Development "Primate Olfaction". Stefano is now a Lecturer in Animal Behaviour at the University of Wolverhampton and an Honorary Researcher in Anthropology at Durham.
  • Dr Rodrigo Moro-Rios: Ciência sem Fronteiras "Phylogenetic reconstruction of ancestral states and diversification of Callitrichidae (Primates) cooperative breeding societies". Rodrigo is now an Honorary Researcher in Anthropology at Durham.

Current Research Students

  • Miles Woodruff: "Reintroduction of Mandrillus sphinx in the Republic of Congo". PhD candidate in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute
  • Ingrid Grueso-Dominguez: "Applying geometric morphometrics to the study of discrete dental traits" PhD candidate
  • Simone Lemmers: "Stress, life history, and dental development in primates". PhD candidate, funded by a Leverhulme Project grant
  • Pedro Mendez-Carvajal: "Conserving primates in highly deforested habitats: a case study in Panama". PhD candidate funded by a Panamanian Government Scholarship. Pedro runs Fundación Pro-Conservación de los Primates Panameños, an NGO dedicated to dedicated the study and conservation of nonhuman primates in Panama.
  • Steffi Henkel: "Group recognition via olfactory cues in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)". University of Leipzig (external supervisor)
  • Marie-Claire Pagano: "Does male infant-handling impact on the behaviour of the mother and infant in Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus)?" MSc by Research candidate
  • Katharine Flach: "The influence of social group composition on the reproductive success and reproductive strategies of females in cooperatively breeding callitrichids" MSc by Research candidate
  • Danson K Mwangiri "One Health at the borderlands: Human-baboon interaction in Nthongoni, Eastern Kenya" PhD candidate

Completed Research Students

Current Collaborations

  • Centre Internationale de Recherches Médicales, Franceville, Gabon (long-term, interdisciplinary studies of semi-free-ranging mandrills)
  • Dr Leslie A Knapp, Department of Anthropology, University of Utah (MHC genetics of semi-free-ranging mandrills)
  • Dr Robin Bernstein, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder, USA (the endocrinology of primate growth and development)
  • Dr Elena Cunningham, NYU College of Dentistry (darting primates)
  • Dr Wendy Dirks, Newcastle Dental School (stress, life history and primate teeth)

Research Interests

  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Primate Conservation
  • Primate socioecology
  • Reproductive strategies
  • Secondary sexual traits and signalling in males and females
  • Socioendocrinology
  • Primate behavioural ecology
  • Sexual selection
  • Life history strategies and phenotypic plasticity
  • Ethnoprimatology

Selected Publications

Edited book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Show all publications

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

  • Stress, Health and Wellbeing Special Interest Group

Related Links

Selected Grants

  • 2014: Primate Vocalisations as Sexual Signals (£9055.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2013: Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise - DIFeREns (£83849.00 from European Commission)
  • 2013: Microsmatic primates revisited: Determining the importance of olfaction in primate communication - PrimOlf (£165202.14 from European Commission)
  • 2013: Stress, life history, and dental development in primates (£62844.50 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2010: Evolutionary significance and proximate mechanisms-International Joint Project (£10000.00 from The Royal Society)

Supervises