NYCEP Alumnus Profile

Stephanie Spehar

Assistant Professor Religious Studies & Anthropology Department University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh


B.A. 1998, California State University, Los Angeles M.A. 2002, New York University Ph.D.2006, New York University



Tel: (920) 424-7073

Overview of Research

Stephanie Spehar is a physical anthropologist whose area of specialization is primate socioecology, or how ecology and the environment have shaped primate social systems and behavior. Within this framework, her research focuses on primate mating systems, group dynamics and social behavior, and communication. A second major research interest is primate conservation, especially the effect of habitat alteration, fragmentation, and hunting on primate communities. To address these issues, Dr. Spehar’s research utilizes long-term behavioral and ecological fieldwork, and she has worked in East Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Spehar’s dissertation research examined the social and reproductive function of a long-distance vocalization in white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador. She continues to be involved in collaborative research on communication and social interactions in spider monkeys and other ateline primates in Ecuador. She is currently involved in collaborative research in Indonesia, geared towards understand the effects of hunting and logging on primate communities at sites in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. She also conducts work in Nicaragua, where she is collaborating with an NGO, Paso Pacífico, to establish protected areas for primates and initiate a long-term study of the behavior, ecology, and population genetic structure of spider and howler monkeys living in forest fragments.

In addition to primate socioecology and conservation, Dr. Spehar is interested in the evolution of language and human behavioral ecology. She teaches Introduction to Anthropology and Physical Anthropology, and is developing courses on Primate Behavior and Ecology and the Evolution of Language


Spehar SN, Link A, Di Fiore A. Male and female range use in a group of white-bellied spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth) in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador. Am J Primatol. 2010 Feb;72(2):129-41.

Mathewson PD, Spehar SN, Meijaard E, Nardiyono, Purnomo, Sasmirul A, Sudiyanto, Oman, Sulhnudin, Jasary, Jumali, Marshall AJ. Evaluating orangutan census techniques using nest decay rates: implications for population estimates. Ecol Appl. 2008 Jan;18(1):208-21.