Jeanne Altmann

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Jeanne Altmann is a professor emerita and Eugene Higgins Professor of ecology and evolutionary biology currently at Princeton University,[1] Her area of focus is the social behaviour of baboons.[2]

Altmann is widely known for her contributions to contemporary primate behavioural ecology.[3] Her paper in 1974 on the observational study of behaviour is a cornerstone for ecologists and has been cited more than 10,000 times.[2]


Jeanne Altmann started her undergraduate degree at UCLA as a mathematics major. However, during her second year, she transferred to MIT after marrying Stuart Altmann, who was a graduate student at Harvard.[2] She then accompanied him to the University of Alberta, where she received her degree in mathematics. Later, she started her graduate degree in biology at the University of Chicago. Through her dissertation, she decided to focus on social and familial interactions of baboons.[2][3]

Using her mathematics background, she was employed as a data analyst in a lab studying human childhood. It was with her background in mathematics that her best known paper was written in 1974 which had been cited at least 10,000 times as of March 1, 2014.[2][4] Jeanne is also known for her involvement with the creation and development of the Amboseli Baboon Research Project,[5] which is now in its fifth decade.[3] She was awarded the Sewall Wright Award in 2013.


In her area of study, Altmann’s fieldwork employs observational rather than experimental sampling methods. This allows her to follow the behaviour of baboons in their natural environment. She utilizes mainly non-invasive techniques. The ABRP also collects fecal samples for genetic, hormonal, and intestinal bacterial analyses.[2][3]

Altmann's research specifically looks at the behavioural ecology of baboons that range in and near Amboseli National Park, Kenya. With collaborators Susan Alberts, Elizabeth Archie, and Jenny Tung, Altmann's research interests have included demography, the mother-infant relationship, behavioral ecology and endocrinology, the evolution of social behavior, aging, sexual selection, disease ecology, and functional genomics.[5]


  • Alberts, Susan C.; Altmann, Jeanne. "Balancing costs and opportunities: dispersal in male baboons". American Naturalist 145: 279–306. doi:10.1086/285740. 
  • Altmann, Stuart A.; Altmann, Jeanne (1973). "Baboon ecology". 
  • Altmann, Jeanne (2001-08-15). "Baboon Mothers and Infants". University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226016078. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  • Altmann, Jeanne (1974). "Observational Study of Behavior: Sampling Methods". Behaviour (BRILL) 49 (3,4): 227–267. JSTOR 4533591. 
  • Altmann, Jeanne; Altmann, Stuart A.; Hausfater, Glenn; McCuskey, Sue Ann (1977). "Life history of yellow baboons: physical development, reproductive parameters, and infant mortality". Primates 18 (2): 315–330. doi:10.1007/bf02383111. 
  • Altmann, Jeanne; Alberts, Susan C.; Haines, Susan A.; Dubach, Jean; Muruthi, Philip; Coote, Trevor; Geffern, Eli; et al. (1996). "Behaviour predicts genes structure in a wild primate group". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 93 (12): 5797–5801. doi:10.1073/pnas.93.12.5797. 
  • Silk, Joan B.; Alberts, Susan C. (2003). "Social bonds of femal baboons enhance infant survival". Science 302 (5648): 1231–1234. doi:10.1126/science.1088580. PMID 14615543. 


  1. ^ "Jeanne Altmann". Princeton University. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "From Babies to Baboons: One Woman’s Path to Success". Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  3. ^ a b c d Alberts, Susan C.; Silk, Joan B. "The contributions of jeanne altmann". Wiley Online Library. Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Observational study of behavior: sampling methods". 
  5. ^ a b Amboseli Baboon Research Project. Accessed January 23, 2015.