James E. Loudon
(PhD, University of Colorado, 2009)
Office: 211 Flanagan Building
I am an anthropologist who focusses on the behavioral ecology of nonhuman primates. I have several research foci including stable isotope ecology, primate parasitology, and ethnoprimatology. At present, I am engaged in a number of projects addressing questions of primate life history and feeding ecology via stable isotope analysis. For one of these projects, my colleagues and I are using Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) to broaden our understanding of the dietary patterns of our early ancestors. Baboons are often referred to as ecological analogs for early hominins because they are large, omnivorous monkeys that inhabit the savanna ecosystems that were once utilized by the australopithecines and early members of the genus Homo, and probably eat many of the same types of foods that our ancestors ate. Understanding the stable isotope compositions and the mechanical and nutritional properties of the foods consumed by these baboons not only informs us about baboon feeding ecology, it has much promise for informing us about the dietary patterns and feeding adaptations of our ancestors.
I am also interested in the interplay between primate hosts and their parasites. My dissertation work focused on the parasite ecology of Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) and ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) inhabiting the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR) in southwest Madagascar. My dissertation work included the local Mahafaly peoples’ perspectives of the sifaka and lemurs that live in the forests that they use at BMSR. I have also used this ethnoprimatological approach to understand how the Balinese perceive the temple macaques they live among.
I live in an anthropology household. My wife, Michaela is also an anthropologist who works in American Samoa examining how psychological and social stress affects the health of pregnant mothers. We live in Greenville, North Carolina with our dog Uli (not an anthropologist) who is more affectionately known as “Pants France.” Uli likes to swim in the Tar River, chase squirrels, and eat meat.