Earthwatch scientist Russell Hill explores human–wildlife interactions in South Africa, where he runs the Primate and Predator Project at the Lajuma Research Centre.
What Is the Focus of Your Research?
“My primary focus concerns understanding the decisions animals make about their social and reproductive strategies and combines field studies with theoretical analyses based on modeling. In particular I am interested in the ecological determinants of group size and the importance of predation risk in primate behavior.”
Other Research Interests:
Dr. Hill has another fascinating line of inquiry: applying what he knows about primate competition to sports. Along with co-researcher Rob Barton, he’s exploring the influence of red clothing, starting with the premise that “there is evidence that red coloration signals both biological traits (health, testosterone and dominance) and emotional states (anger/arousal). It is also known that in animals, artificial colors can exploit innate responses to natural stimuli.”
“Since our original research there has been a growing body of evidence to show the significance of red on the perceivers (opponents, referees and experimental subjects!) but the effect of wearing red on the wearer has remained comparatively unexplored,” he recently reported. “Nevertheless, we had hypothesised that impact of color might operate through hormonal influences such that wearing red may, for example, elevate testosterone levels.”