Christy Wolovich, Ph.D.
I am a broadly trained behavioral ecologist with over 13 years of experience teaching at the college-level and conducting research both in the field and in captive environments. In my Animal Behavior, Field Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Research in Ecology courses, students engage in inquiry-based projects giving them skills to be successful beyond college. Prior to teaching at Florida Southern College, I spent time teaching at several other prestigious academic programs (St. Mary’s College of MD; Bucknell University) and had the opportunity to teach and do research in the Gambia, West Africa. I earned my doctoral degree from University of Miami where I investigated the details of food sharing in owl monkeys both in captivity (DuMond Conservancy) and in the wild (Argentina).
I am a behavioral ecologist who studies social behavior in primates. My research examines patterns of behavior in relation to the formation and maintenance of pair bonds in monogamous owl monkeys (Aotus spp.). Owl monkeys are nocturnal, socially monogamous primates that exhibit extensive paternal care of offspring. My dissertation research examined the patterns of food sharing among owl monkeys and the various benefits to this cooperative behavior.
More recent and current research projects include examining the patterns of scent-marking behavior to determine if mated pairs actively guard their mates using olfactory cues. Research students (official members of Team Aotus!) often travel to Miami, FL during the summers in order to carry out behavioral observations of the owl monkeys and any related biological sampling.
Several honors students (Gabrielle Risko and Isabel Arcusa) are conducting an experiment to determine how the monkeys respond to the chemical cues of conspecifics. Meanwhile, Rachel Breitenbach is following up on some of my earlier work on insect foraging behavior by examining which sensory cues owl monkeys use to detect insect prey. Several recent graduates (Samantha Prosser and Monet Burkett) are examining the complex facial hair patterns in owl monkeys and how they may be used in intraspecific communication.
I am fortunate to collaborate with several other amazing scientists in the FSC biology department. Research students (Malique Bowen) worked under the direction of Dr. Melanie Langford to isolate and identify bacteria comprising the microbiome associated with owl monkey scent glands and we compared these data to their scent-marking behavior. We plan to continue exploring the role that bacteria play in maintaining social monogamy. Dr. Susan Banks and I worked with several students (Alliana Hack, Christina Fleck) to examine urinary cortisol levels in the owl monkeys and determine if those physiological indicators of stress correspond to specific repetitive behaviors.
Student members of Team Aotus often go on to graduate or professional school after graduation.
- Malique Bowen – University of Delaware, Marine Bioscience, M.S. program
- Megan Blomquist – University of Minnesota, Veterinary Medicine
- Guerbine Fils-aime – Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment, M.S. program
- Carly Miles – Florida Atlantic University, Department of Anthropology, M.S. program
- Madeline Sliwa – University of Tennessee, Veterinary Medicine
Student Research Posters
I am also working with researchers in West Africa, South America and the Conservation Committee of the American Society of Primatologists to help promote important conservation initiatives. If you would like to learn more about these efforts, click on the links below:
Location: Polk Science 139