Kay E. Holekamp
University Distinguished Professor
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1983
322 Natural Science Building
Office Telephone: 517-432-3691
Mammalian Behavioral Development
My interests focus on the ontogenetic development, physiological mediation, and evolution of mammalian behavior. I am currently pursuing various lines of research investigating how social , ecological, and physiological variables interact during an individual’s early development to influence its subsequent behavior and its reproductive success as an adult. The primary study organism used in my lab is the spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Spotted hyenas are long-lived, gregarious carnivores exhibiting a unique suite of behavioral, endocrine, and morphological characteristics. Since 1988, we have been studying the behavioral ecology of members of multiple large Crocuta groups in Kenya mainly in the Masai Mara National Reserve, but also in Amboseli National Park. We also study striped hyenas in Shompole Kenya. My students and I are exploring many different facets of the biology of these fascinating animals. A few examples follow.
With Dr. J.A. French at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and Dr. S.E. Glickman at UC Berkeley, we are investigating the long-term effects on phenotype and fitness of pre-natal androgen exposure in free-living hyenas.
With Drs. B.L. Lundrigan, M.L. Zelditch, and J.B. Tanner, we are using a novel combination of behavioral and morphometric techniques to evaluate hypothes concerning relationships throughout ontogenetic development among morphology of the feeding apparatus, diet, feeding performance in wild hyenas.
With Drs. S.T. Sakai and B.L. Lundrigan, we are investigating the relationship among selection pressures imposed by life in a complex society, brain morphology and performance in cognitive tests.
With Dr. K.T. Scribner, we are using genetic markers to document variation in reproductive success among free-living hyenas.
With Drs. L. Mansfield, P. Fraker and J. Taso, we are investigating how hyenas and other carrion-eating mammals cope with pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
In collaboration with the IUCN, the Mara Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service, we are attempting to promote the protection and conservation of hyenas and other large African carnivores.
Theis, K.R., Schmidt, T.M. & Holekamp, K.E. (2012) Evidence for a bacterial mechanism for group-specific social odors among hyenas. Scientific Reports 2, 615; DOI:10.1038/srep00615
Benson-Amram, S. & Holekamp, K.E. (2012). Innovative problem solving by wild spotted hyenas. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B. 279:4087-4095. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1450
Holekamp, K.E., Smith, J.E., Strelioff, C.C., Van Horn, R.C. & Watts, H.E. (2012)
Society, demography and genetic structure in the spotted hyena. Molecular Ecology 21: 613-632. DOI: 10.1111/j. 1365-294X.2011.05240.x
Swanson, E.M., Dworkin, I. & Holekamp, K.E. (2011) Lifetime selection on a hypoallometric size trait in the spotted hyena. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 278: 3277-3285. DOI 10.1098/rspb.2010.2512
Holekamp, K.E. & Dloniak, S. M. (2010) Intra-specific variation in the behavioral ecology of a tropical carnivore, the spotted hyena. In Behavioral Ecology of Tropical Animals: From Ants to Zebras (R. Macedo, Ed.) Advances in the Study of Behavior. 42: 189-229. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-3454(10)42006-9