I am a biological anthropologist with a general interest in understanding the evolution and maintenance of social systems. My main research interest is to examine the mechanisms that maintain social monogamy and the role that sexual selection may have had in the evolution of this unusual mating system. I am also motivated to study living primates as an approach to understanding the evolution of human behavior. I am particularly interested in male-female relationships, pair bonding and paternal care in humans and non-human primates.
I was born in Argentina where I obtained my first biology degree at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1990 I left Argentina to pursue a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior at the University of California in Davis, USA. After completing my doctorate, I spent time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University (David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Department of Human Evolutionary Biology) and the Zoological Society of San Diego (Institute for Conservation Research). Since 1999 I have been a Researcher at the Center for Applied Ecology (CECOAL) of Argentina. In 2006 I joined the Department of Anthropology in the University of Pennsylvania.
Sakis, titis, and owl monkeys, the three monogamous genera that I study, have some fascinating differences in their degree of physical sexual dimorphism, the extent of affiliation between partners and in the amount of paternal care provided that make them an excellent group to evaluate alternative hypotheses for the evolution and maintenance of monogamy in primates and early humans. The Owl Monkey Project and the Comparative Socioecology of Monogamous Primates Project are providing invaluable data to examine those questions through field research in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Argentinean Chaco. Additionally, the research on the demography, population biology and life-history of howler monkeys in Venezuela and Argentina offers another model to examine mating systems and sexual selection by focusing this time on a very different taxon that lives in multi-female groups.
My extended field work as a biologist in Northern Argentina has led me to take notice of the urgent need to action regarding issues of conservation and education in the Argentinean Chaco. Together with my colleague and wife, Dr. Claudia Valeggia (Anthropology, Univ. Pennsylvania), in 1999 I established a foundation (Fundación ECO) in Formosa aimed at addressing these important issues. As a foundation, we provide educational research experiences to students from around the world; additionally, via local educational outreach, we strive to educate the people of Argentinean Chaco on the need to protect the fauna and flora of the region.
Copyright (c) 2011, Eduardo Fernandez-Duque
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