Molecular Anthropology Group

at the University of Oregon

Nelson Ting [publications]

Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Institute of Ecology and Evolution
Affiliate Faculty in the Environmental Studies Program

Office: 302B Condon Hall
Office Phone: 541-346-5509

Lab Office: 345 CMER
Lab Office Phone: 541-346-8878

Laboratory Location: 305 CMER
Lab Phone: 541-346-8879

Ph.D. Anthropology, City University of New York Graduate Center, New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (2008)
M.A. Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia (2001)
B.A. Biology and Anthropology, Washington University StL (1999)

Areas of Specialization
Molecular Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Conservation Biology, Phylogenetics, Population Genetics, Phylogeography

I am an anthropologist and evolutionary biologist who uses genetics to address a wide variety of questions regarding the ecology, evolution, and behavior of our closest relatives - the non-human primates. I enjoy working at the intersection of multiple disciplines, and my research program reflects this by incorporating both field and lab-based methods. I also maintain a strong interest in conservation biology, so much of my work focuses on threatened wild populations with the goal of helping guide conservation strategies. I have been most involved in studying primate communities and/or species in the tropics of Africa, but I am interested in a variety of primate and non-primate taxa. Currently, the major focus of my research program is understanding how evolutionary processes have shaped patterns of modern primate biological diversity. This includes investigating the effects of environmental change, both natural and anthropogenic, on primate communities.

Ongoing Research Topics

I would like to thank the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Primate Conservation Inc. for funding various projects in my group.

Biological and social drivers of primate disease transmission
: My collaborators and I are studying how biological, social, and cultural factors combine to influence the transmission of primate retroviruses within and between species in Kibale National Park, Uganda. My primary interest in this project is in how human alteration to the landscape is affecting primate demography, and how this in turn is affecting disease transmission. We are using restriction-site associated DNA sequencing and RNA sequencing to better understand these issues from the biological side, and we are also conducting ethnographic research in the local communities surrounding Kibale to understand cultural and social drivers of zoonotic transmission. This research is currently funded by the NIH through the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease Program. [pictures]

Climate change and primate population dynamics
: I am interested in how primate population dynamics were influenced by periods of past climate change. This requires the use of coalescent-based methods for the inference of demographic history, including past migration events and changes in population size. Understanding this issue provides insight into how current climate change might affect primate communities in the future.

Primate molecular systematics
: I maintain a long standing interest in primate molecular systematics. This not only includes the theoretical underpinnings behind phylogenetic reconstruction and classification, but also the use of systematics to better understand speciation, biogeography, evolutionary relationships among fossil and living species, and the designation of conservation priorities among threatened taxa. Although my research has focused on elucidating the phylogenetic relationships among the leaf-eating monkeys (subfamily Colobinae), I am interested in the systematics and evolutionary history of all members of the primate order.

Primate social systems and behavior
: Through my collaborators and members of my research team I have been developing a growing interest in the use of genetics to better understand the social systems and behavior of non-human primates. This includes how social systems affect patterns of genetic variation, what environmental and ecological factors affect sex-biased dispersal, and how kinship influences social behavior.