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Durham University

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

Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology

Contact Dr Stefano Vaglio (email at


In 2003 I graduated with first class honours in Biology at Pisa University (Italy). Following a career break, I gained my PhD in Anthropology from Florence University (Italy) in 2009.

Before joining the Anthropology Department, I worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Part-time Lecturer at the Biology Department of Florence University, focussing on chemical communication in non-human primates and humans, and as a Part-time Research Scientist at the Garda Zoological Park, focussing on welfare assessment and management of captive primates as well as in situ conservation initiatives.

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

From October 2013 to December 2015 I worked at Durham University as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology. In January 2016 I moved to the University of Wolverhampton as a Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, 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, while I continue my research work in collaboration with the Primatology Group at Durham University as an Honorary Research Fellow.

Additionally, I am Research Associate at Garda Zoological Park, Member of the Steering Committee of the EU LIFE Northern Bald Ibis project (2014-2019), 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), of which I am currently Advisor.

Current Research

I research how vertebrates communicate using chemical signals. However, since the majority of my research work has focused on captive primates, I have also developed interest in zoo 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 assessment & management in captive animals. 

Please visit my EU-funded research project Microsmatic primates revisited: Determining the importance of olfaction in primate communication (PrimOlf) website.

Esteem Indicators

Funds, Grants and Awards

  • British Academy / Leverhulme (£ 9,187), Small Research Grant (Co-Applicant), 2019
  • Primate Society of Great Britain (£ 1,000), Captive Care Grant, 2018
  • European Commission (£ 1,300), Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (Partner), 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), Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (Principal Investigator), 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

International Collaborations

  • Behavioural Ecology, Ethology and Willife Management Research Group - Siena University, Italy (Alpine chamois)
  • Chemical Ecology Research Group - University of Hull, UK (semiochemistry)
  • Nocturnal Primate Research Group - Oxford Brookes University, UK (food selection)
  • Parco Natura Viva - Garda Zoological Park, Italy (captive primate welfare)
  • Primate Research Institute - Kyoto University, Japan (Japanese macaques)
  • Primate Centre - CNRS, France (olive baboons)
  • Psychology Department - Max Planck Institute, Germany (chimpanzees)
  • Psychology Department - Northumbria University, UK (human olfaction)
  • Veterinary Medical Sciences Department - Bologna University, Italy (endocrinology)

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 Groups

Department of Anthropology

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

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Primate behaviour: Olfactory communication