Biology Student Vaira Presents Primate Ethology Research

Posted on 11/14/2016 12:23:14 PM

Gina Vaira recently presented some of her primate behavior research at the Northeastern Evolutionary Primatologists meeting in New York City.

Gina Vaira poster presentationVaira, a current MS student in the Department of Biology, came to IUP from California University of Pennsylvania, where she began her research under the direction of Summer Arrigo-Nelson. Their research focused on the reproductive behavior of siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus; Hylobatidae), an endangered species of gibbon native to Malaysia, Thailand, and Sumatra.

Vaira made extensive observations of the pair of siamangs housed at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, and, with the assistance of Paul Nealen (IUP Biology), developed an “ethogram” for the species by mapping their behaviors and proximate locations over time.

Vaira is continuing primate research for her thesis work here at IUP with Nealen, developing methods to test the cognitive skills of these siamangs via touch-screen computer technology.

A pair of siamangsThe Northeastern Evolutionary Primatology group is comprised of a diverse group of researchers and conservationists throughout the northeastern United States whose research focuses on primate (human and nonhuman) evolution, ecology, and behavior. You can find out more about them at the Northeastern Evolutionary Primatology website.

The Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium is one of the pre-eminent zoological and conservation organizations in the northeastern United States. Find out more about their programs and opportunities to support them at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium website

IUP Department of Biology