Wendy M. Erb, Ph. D.
I am a behavioral ecologist and biological anthropologist broadly interested in the environmental and physiological influences on the behavioral and reproductive strategies of wild primates. My diverse and collaborative research program spans the fields of ecology, physiology, bioacoustics, and conservation, tied together by a deep interest in how individuals and populations are affected by environmental change.
The majority of my research is conducted in Indonesia where, in 2005, I initiated a multi-year study of male-male competition and loud calls in the critically endangered simakobu monkey (Simias concolor), an odd-nosed monkey endemic to the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia. Following the completion of my PhD, I conducted four years of postdoctoral research on energetics, health, and honest signaling in wild Bornean orangutans in Central Kalimantan. My study focused on identifying factors driving energetic shifts in flanged males, and how changes in health and energy balance affect their behavior and long calls. While directing an environmental education and outreach program for local communities, I co-founded the non-profit organization CORE Borneo to support orangutan research and conservation in 2016.
Most recently, I initiated a partnership with UK and Indonesian collaborators in 2018 to establish a long-term ecological and ethnographic multidisciplinary research and conservation program in the Rungan River landscape in Central Kalimantan. One of the largest lowland forests in Borneo with no formal protection, Rungan comprises diverse habitats and houses a rich fauna, including large populations of orangutans and gibbons. Yet, much of the area is designated for conversion to plantation or as timber concessions. As a postdoctoral researcher at BRP, I am using bioacoustics methods to determine the distributions of flagship orangutans and gibbons in the landscape and assess how they are affected by shifts in food resource availability and human activity. In the long-term, I aim to develop cost-effective methods to monitor endangered wildlife populations while leading initiatives to support conservation through community partnerships in Indonesia.