Welcome to the Anthropology Department

wendyerbprofilepic(PhD, Stony Brook University, 2012; Postdoctoral Fellow) animal communication, biological conservation, evolution of competition & cooperation, primate mating strategies, sexual selection, tropical ecology; Bolivia, South America; Siberut and Borneo Islands, Indonesia wendy.erb@rutgers.edu


wendyerbprofilepicI recently completed my PhD in Anthropological Sciences at Stony Brook University. For my dissertation, I explored the patterns and functions of male-male competition and loud calls in a critically endangered and virtually unknown primate, the simakobu (Simias concolor), an odd-nosed monkey endemic to the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia. In particular, I was interested in the strategies and signals of intrasexual competition between males and these calls' potential to honestly signal male competitive ability. This research investigated demography and dispersal patterns, and the impacts of human disturbance on group composition; seasonal patterns of ecology and reproduction; spatial relationships among one-male and all-male groups; male loud calls as honest signals of energy status; and the acoustic features of loud calls that differentiate callers and contexts.

My research focuses broadly on the social and ecological behavior of wild primates. I am primarily interested in the strategies and signals of reproductive competition, and I incorporate behavioral, ecological, and acoustic methods in my research. I am also very interested in biological conservation, and understanding the ways that human activities influence the behavior and ecology of wild primates. I am excited to spend the next three years studying the diet and nutritional ecology of Bornean orangutans and supporting biodiversity conservation in Indonesia during my postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Erin Vogel. In addition to my work in Indonesia, I'm involved in another field-based project in Bolivia, where my collaborators and I are investigating the proximate and ultimate factors influencing cooperation in wild Weddell's saddleback tamarins (Saguinus fuscicolis weddelli). We are collecting morphological, genetic, and behavioral data in order to test adaptive hypotheses for the evolution of cooperative behaviors as well as the proximate factors influencing individual participation.



2012  Ph.D., Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University

2006  M.A., Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University

2001  B.S. (Magna cum laude), Zoology, The Ohio State University


Grants and Awards:

2012  LSB Leakey Foundation Research Grant

2010  American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Sherwood Washburn prize for outstanding student research 

2008  National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant

2007  American Society of Primatologists Research Grant

2006 - 2008  Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund Research Grants

2005 - 2008  Primate Action Fund Research Grants

2005 - 2008  Primate Conservation, Inc. Research Grants


Recent Publications:

Erb, WM, C Borries, NS Lestari, JK Hodges. Annual variation in ecology and reproduction of wild simakobu (Simias concolor).International Journal of Primatology. 33 (6): 1406-1419.

Erb, WM, C Borries, NS Lestari, T Ziegler. 2012. Demography of simakobu (Simias concolor) and the impact of human disturbance. American Journal of Primatology. 74 (6): 580-590.

Erb, WM, K Ossi-Lupo, G McCabe, D Fernández. 2011 Annual meeting of the American Society of Primatologists. Evolutionary Anthropology. 21 (1): 3-4.

Erb, WM. 2008. Conservation Small Grant Award Report: Behavioral ecology of simakobu monkeys (Simias concolor) in northern Siberut, Indonesia. ASP Bulletin. 32 (1): 8-10.

Erb, WM, EM St. Clair, M Jonas. 2006. From syntax to synapomorphies. Evolutionary Anthropology. 15 (4): 119-120.

Upcoming Events

 13 Mar 2018;
 03:00PM -
 redesigned website goes live!