Jacinta C. Beehner

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jbeehner

Associate Professor, Anthropology and Psychology; Director, Core Assay Facility (Dept. of Psychology), Co-Director of the University of Michigan Gelada Research Project

222-A West Hall, 1085 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1107

Office Location(s): 4052 East Hall
Phone: 734.764.7365
jbeehner@umich.edu
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project webpage

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Psychology
  • About

    My research has centered on the physiology that underlies behavioral stress, aggression, social status, and mate choice in non-human primates. The short-term objectives of my research are to understand the causal connections between social conditions and individual variation in physiology. My long-term research goals are to identify some of the cognitive aspects of hormonal control for non-human primates. For example, what is the role of psychological vs. physical stressors in the lives of these primates? What sorts of cues do individuals use to size up a rival or choose a mate? What role do hormones play in these decisions? Most of my research has been conducted on wild baboons in Ethiopia and Botswana. A field-based approach allows me to observe the interactions of hormones and behavior within the selective environment under which the physiological responses evolved. I combine non-invasive methods of behavioral data collection with fecal hormone extraction from habituated, known individuals. Currently, I am investigating these questions on a group of gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada) living in the Simiens Mountains National Park of Ethiopia. Gelada baboons are unique among cercopithecine primates because they live in extremely large social groups and have a diverse array of vocal and visual signals that may be mediated by steroid hormones.