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The Australian National University

Dr Alison Behie

B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D, FHEA
Senior Lecturer and Head of Discipline, Biological Anthropology
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

Primate behaviour and conservation; impact of nutrition on stress hormones and parasitism in non-human primates; effect of habitat disturbance, including environmental disasters on humans and non-human primates


Recent publications:

Edited Volume

Behie AM and Oxenham MF. 2015. Taxonomic tapestries: The threads of evolutionary, behavioural and conservation research. ANU press. 

Peer reviewed journal articles

Pavelka MSM and Behie AM. In press. Hurricanes and Cyclones. The International Encyclopedia of Primatology.

King A, Behie AM, Rawson BM and Hon N. 2016. Patterns of salt lick use by mammal and bird species in Northeastern Cambodia. Cambodian Journal of Natural History. 1: 40-50.

O’Donnell MH and Behie AM. 2015. Effects of wildfire disaster exposure on male birth weight in an Australian population. Evolution, Medicine and Public Health 1: 344-354.

Behie AM and O’Donnell MH. 2015. The impact of prenatal smoking on age at menarche in Australian females. Human Reproduction 30: 957-962. 

Peer reviewed book chapters

Behie AM and Oxenham MF. 2015. The Colin Groves Effect: 50 years of influence on evolutionary, behavioural and conservation research. IN Taxonomic tapestries: The threads of evolutionary, behavioural and conservation research. AM BEHIE and MF Oxenham (eds). ANU press. Pp 3-12.

Behie AM, Wyman TM, Steffens TS and Pavelka MSM. 2015. Hurricanes and coast lines: The role of natural disasters in the evolution of Alouatta pigra. IN Taxonomic tapestries: The threads of evolutionary, behavioural and conservation research. AM BEHIE and MF Oxenham (eds). ANU press. Pp 75-92.

Oxenham MF and Behie AM. 2015. The warp and weft: Synthesising our taxonomic tapestry. IN Taxonomic tapestries: The threads of evolutionary, behavioural and conservation research. AM BEHIE and MF Oxenham (eds). ANU Press. Pp 373-380. 

Other refereed contributions

Behie AM and Groves CP. 2016. China’s primates: preserve wild species. Nature. 534:179.




In 2010, Alison received a Ph.D from The University of Calgary in Anthropology (with a primatology specialization). Her dissertation work examined the effects of a major hurricane on a howler monkey population in Southern Belize, specifically examining the roles of food supply, nutrition, stress hormones and parasitism in the recovery of this population. From 2009 - 2011, Alison lectured in both the Department of Anthropology at The University of Calgary and The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Currently, she is a lecturer and Head of Discipline in Biological Anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University.

Researcher's projects

The effect of environmental disasters on non-human primates: Alison continues to monitor the long-term recovery of a howler monkey population in Southern Belize to Hurricane Iris, which struck in 2001. She is also using this information to investigate post-disturbance community ecology including new mechanisms of parasite exposure related to changes in forest composition.

Socioecology of silvered langurs and crested yellow-cheeked gibbons in Cambodia: Working in conjunction with Conservation International, Alison is working on research projects investigating behaviour, nutrition, and habitat use of these two endangered primate species in Northeastern Cambodia. This is also the site where Alison runs an annual field school in Primate Behaviour and Ecology (BIAN 3018/6018).

Behaviour and Conservation of Cat Ba langurs in Vietnam: With less than 70 animals left in the world, Alison is working with the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project and Fauna&Flora International, to investigate the population structure and viability of this critically endangered primate.

Impacts of prenatal stress on reproduction and childhood development: Alison is investigating how stress expreienced in utero and in early childhood impacts bith condition and development of children into adolescence and adulthood.

Available student projects

1) Possible Honours/MBIAN projects can be supervised on:

Numerous aspects of primate behaviour, conservation and ecology using the literature, data collected on captive primates or existing data on howler monkeys

Effects of environmental disasters on humans or non-human primates

2) Possible MBIAN/PhD projects can be supervised as part of the following long term research projects:

The behavioural ecology of endangered primates in northeastern Cambodia

The behaviour, physiology and conservation of the Cat Ba Langur

The effects of prenatal stress and/or environmental disasters on human life history traits

Please contact for information regarding possible honour's MA or PhD projects

Current student projects

PhD Students:

Kirrily Apthorp: Habitat quality of three critically endangred primate species in Vietnam

Rebecca Hendershott: Socioecology of the Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus) in Vietnam:Implications for Conservation Planning

Abu Kibria: Ecosystem service valuation of Veun Sai Siem Pang Conservation Area, Cambodia

Nicky Kim-McCormack:Investigating the effect of free choice digital activities on orangutan behaviour  

Lauren McFarlane: The impacts of prenatal and early life stress on the biological, cognitive and social outcomes of Indigenous Australian children from an evolutionary perspective

Amy King: Cogntion and Social transmission in gibbons

Megan O'Donnell: The impact of bush fires on life history traits of Australian populations: The effects of pre-natal and early childhood stress

Alannah Pearson: Inside and Out: Using virtual imaging to investigate the evolution of cranial bones and brain lobes in fossil and living primates.

Kayla Ruskin: Feeding ecology and nutrition of the critically endangered Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus)

Honours Students:

Sofie Semmler:  Using metabolomics to assess the nutritional quality of the food supply of colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda. 

Past student projects

Masters Students:

2015 Lauren McFarlane. Impact of the Queensland Flood on birth outcomes and reproduction

2015 Joanna Blake. Review of Locomotor Research in the Callitrichidae and an Exploratory Study of Individual Locomotor Variation in Saguinus Oedipus

2014 Kirrily Apthorp. Making sense of Maba man.

2013 Britta Nelson. Sleeping and calling tree use by Northern buff-cheeked gibbons in         Cambodia.

2012 Megan O'Donnell. The impact of pre-natal stress on reproductive outcomes following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires

2012 Josh Christie. Behavioural flexibility in captive ring tailed lemurs

Honours Students:

2015 Olivia Morley. Key resource use of Northern yellow-cheeked crested Gibbon (Nomascus annamensis)

2015 Cynthia Parayiwa. The impact of maternal exposure to environmental disasters on birth outcomes following Cyclone Yasi (2011) in Queensland, Australia

2015 Jessica Williams. Environmental, anthropogenic and energetic predictors of the likelihood of Northern buff-cheeked crested gibbons (Nomascus annamensis) calling in Veun-Sai Siem Pang Conservation Area, Cambodia

2015 Madelaine Winkler (Co-supervised with Dr Geoff Kushnick). Pathogen Pressure and Consanguineous Marriage: the Case of Impal Marriage among the Karo Batak from North Sumatra


2015 Hayley Roberts. Reproductive Characteristics of Captive Langurs and Gibbons: Life History and Reproductive Senescence

2014 Jasmine Soukieh. Human brain development in the context of undernutrition: cognitive implications

2013 Amy King. A new approach to the social brain hypothesis

2013 Kayla Ruskin. Using geometric frameworks to understand howler monkey food selection following a major hurricane


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Updated:  28 June 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers