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Anthropology | Nanda Grow

Ph.D., Texas A&M
Assistant Professor, Career Track




Research Interests

Areas: Biological Anthropology, Behavioral Ecology, Evolutionary Ecology, Primatology

 Topics: High altitude adaptation, Bioacoustics, Tarsier evolution, Antipredator strategies, Edge Effects, Sexual Selection, Phenotypic Specialization, Conservation

I am an evolutionary and behavioral ecologist who is broadly interested in how natural selective pressures shape the behavior and biology of primates, especially in the context of marginal and human-modified environments.  I am most interested in answering questions about the ecological, morphological, social, and genetic context for primate adaptations.  Of particular interest to me is the evolutionary history of tarsiers, a unique group of haplorrhine primates that, compared to monkeys and apes, have not undergone a large amount of diversification; they’ve remained remarkably unchanged for millions of years, and are useful models for exploring early primate evolution.  I also study primates that are considered “specialized,” which are a contrast to the “generalist” model for many apes and humans.

My research is primarily based in Indonesia.  The bulk of my fieldwork has been Sulawesi; the biogeography of this large island reflects great diversity in plants and animals, including primate populations.  One focus of my ongoing research is to understand the behavior and ecology of montane “pygmy” tarsiers (Tarsius pumilus) in Lore Lindu National Park, Central Sulawesi.  I find this particular species fascinating because it is the only exclusively montane species of tarsier.  How primates adapt to life at higher altitudes is particularly important now that lowland habitat is diminishing, and populations shift their ranges to higher elevations.

Some past topics I have investigated include the function of venom in Javan lorisid primates (a defense mechanism against both predators and parasites); the effects of forest edges on montane tarsier density and distribution (tarsiers have a biased distribution near roads when food density is low); and the function of communicating at ultrasonic vocal frequencies (body size effects and crypsis).

Outside my typical areas of research, I am interested in actively diversifying biological anthropology in both teaching and research, which can help dismantle the racist foundation that our discipline was built upon.

If you are interested in working with me, please email me and we can set up a time to chat!

Current Research

  • High Altitude Ecology and Constraints
  • Population Density and Distribution in Anthropogenically Altered Habitat
  • Evolution of Vocal Frequencies

I am currently researching questions about traits that are considered specialized, including high-frequency vocalizations, using a narrow ecological niche such as mountaintops, and the evolution of secondary sexual characteristics in resource-poor environments.



101 [DIVR] Introduction to Anthropology 3 Explores what it means to be human through the major subfields of anthropology, including biological anthropology (human evolution and variation), archaeology, sociocultural anthropology, and linguistics.

260 [BSCI] Introduction to Biological Anthropology 4 (3-3) Evidence for human evolution; evolutionary explanations of human variation; techniques of biological anthropology.


Representative Publications

2019  Grow NB. Cryptic Communication in a Montane Nocturnal Haplorhine, Tarsius pumilus. Folia Primatologica 90(5): 404-421.

2017   Gursky S, Salibay C, Grow NB, Fields L. Impact of Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippine tarsier population. Folia Primatologica 88(4):323-332.

2017   Gursky S, Grow NB, Fields L.  (2017). Tarsiiformes.  In: Agustin Fuentes (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Primatology Volume III, pp. 1364-1368.  New York: Wiley Blackwell.

2015   Grow NB, Wirdateti, Nekaris A. Does toxic defense in slow lorises relate to ectoparasites?  The lethal effects of slow loris venom on arthropods. Toxicon 95:1-5.

2013   Grow NB, S Gursky-Doyen, Krzton A (Eds).   High Altitude Primates.  New York: Springer Publishing.

2013   Grow NB, Gursky S, Duma Y.  Altitude and Forest Edges Influence the Density and Distribution of Pygmy Tarsiers (Tarsius pumilus). American Journal of Primatology 75(5): 464-477.

2013   Grow NB.  Altitudinal Distribution and Ranging Patterns of Pygmy Tarsiers (Tarsius pumilus).  In: NB Grow, S Gursky-Doyen, A Krzton (Eds.), High Altitude Primates, pp. 43-59.  New York: Springer Publishing.

2010   Grow NB, Gursky-Doyen S. Preliminary Data on the Ecology, Behavior, and Morphology of Tarsius pumilus. International Journal of Primatology 31(6): 1174-1191.

2009    Gursky-Doyen S, Grow NB. Elusive Highland Pygmy Tarsier Rediscovered in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Oryx 43(2): 173-174.





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