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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Dr Stefano Vaglio, MSc (Pisa), PhD (Florence), FHEA

Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology

Contact Dr Stefano Vaglio (email at


I am currently Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour at University of Wolverhampton, where I also serve as Faculty rep on the University Research Concordat Sub-committee and the University Ethics Sub-committee’s Working Group on Animal Research, and Honorary Research Fellow in Anthropology at Durham University. I am Principal Investigator of the EU-funded projects International Zoo Conservation & Management (Erasmus+ Key Action 203 Mobility Project 2019-2022) and The Enriched Primate (Marie Curie Actions 2020-2022).

In 2003 I graduated with first class honours in Biology (curriculum: Behavioural Neurobiology) at Pisa University (Italy). Following a career break, I gained my PhD in Anthropology (curriculum: Primatology) from Florence University (Italy) in 2009. Before joining Durham University's Anthropology Department, I worked as Postdoctoral Fellow on chemical communication in non-human primates and humans at Florence University (Italy), and as Part-time Research Scientist on captive primate welfare and in situ conservation initiatives at Parco Natura Viva-Garda Zoological Park (Italy).

The majority of my research work has focused on captive primates (lemurs, tamarins, mandrills, baboons) housed at European zoological gardens and primate centres. However, I have also conducted primate fieldwork in Madagascar (lemurs) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (bonobos).

From October 2013 to December 2015 I worked at Durham as Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology focusing on my project Microsmatic primates revisited: Determining the importance of olfaction in primate communication. In January 2016 I moved to Wolverhampton as Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, while I continued my research work in collaboration with the Primatology Group at Durham as Honorary Research Fellow.

Additionally, I am Research Associate at ARCA Foundation - Garda Zoological Park, and Member of the Board of Directors of the École Nature Recherche and Trunks & Leaves

Furthermore, for several years I have been working on applied projects about primate conservation and the sustainability of local communities in Africa and, as a result of this experience, in 2011 I co-founded a specialized consultancy firm, CarbonSinkGroup srl (Florence University spin-off).

Current Research

I am a biologist interested in chemical ecology. In particular, I study how animals (mainly non-human primates, but also other mammals and humans) communicate using chemical signals. However, since the majority of my research work has focused on captive animals, I have also developed interest in captive animal welfare.

I use training techniques and combine semiochemistry, behavioural ecology, bioacoustics, digital imaging, cytology and endocrinology to address questions relating to socio-sexual communication and welfare in zoo animals.

Funds, Grants and Awards

  • European Commission (€ 212,934), MSCA IF project EnPrim (PI - Supervisor), 2020-2022
  • European Commission (€ 219,691), Erasmus+ KA 203 project InterZoo (PI), 2019-2022
  • British Academy / Leverhulme (£ 9,187), Small Research Grant (Co-I), 2019
  • Primate Society of Great Britain (£ 1,000), Captive Care Grant, 2018
  • European Commission (£ 1,300), MSCA IF project DiseaseRecognition (Co-Supervisor), 2017-2018
  • University of Wolverhampton (£ 9,720), FSE Annual Funding Competition, 2015-2016
  • Durham University (£ 645), Anthropology Department Research Fund, 2015 
  • European Commission (€ 231,283), MSCA IEF project PrimOlf (PI - Research Fellow), 2013-2015
  • Florence University (€ 80,690), Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 2009-2013
  • Eupolis Lombardia (€ 15,125), Research Project, 2009
  • Italian Primatological Association (€ 200), Travel Award (2nd Conference of the EFP), 2007
  • Italian Ministry of Scientific Research and Technology (€ 40,914), PhD Fellowship, 2006-2008
  • Florence University (€ 12,000), Postgraduate Fellowship, 2005

Invited Talks & Other Esteem Indicators

Research students

Current PhD students:

  • Edmund O’Malley (University of Wolverhampton)
  • Emily Elwell (University of Wolverhampton)
  • Rachel Sawyer (Oxford Brookes University)

Past PhD students:

  • Sara Fontani (Università degli Studi di Firenze)

Reviewer Services

Ad hoc funding agency reviewer:

  • Czech Science Foundation

Ad hoc journal reviewer:

  • American Journal of Primatology
  • Biology Letters
  • BMC Veterinary Research
  • Business, Strategy and the Environment
  • Chemical Senses
  • Comptes Rendus Biologies
  • Environment and Pollution
  • International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Journal of Chemical Ecology
  • Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
  • Journal of Experimental Biology
  • Journal of Primatology
  • Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
  • Methods in Ecology and Evolution
  • Royal Society Open Science

Research Interests

  • Primate Chemical Ecology
  • Primate Welfare Assessment and Management

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Vaglio, S., Bartels-Hardege, H. & Hardege, J. (2018). Pheromone. In Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Vonk, J. & Shackelford, T. Springer, Cham.
  • Vaglio, S. & Chiarelli, B. (2010). New Challenges in the Study of Phermones. In Pheromones: Theories, Types and Uses. Gregory, I.M. Hauppauge: Nova Science Publishers. 225-230.
  • Vaglio, S. (2010). Volatile signals during pregnancy. In Pheromones. Litwack, G. Amsterdam Boston: Elsevier. 83: 289-304.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

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Research Groups