Cynthia Thompson

Assistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences Department
231 Padnos Hall
Allendale, Michigan 49401
Phone:  616-331-2818
Fax:  616-331-2090

See available times here,
or by appointment



Post-doctoral fellow, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Anatomy & Neurobiology
Ph.D. - Kent State University, Biological Anthropology
M.A. Kent State University, Anthropology
B.S. University of California, Davis, Evolutionary Anthropology

BMS 208 - Human Anatomy
BMS 461 - Prosected Regional Anatomy


My research aims to understand the social, ecological, and physiological factors driving primate behavior.   I integrate observational field-based methods, controlled captive experiments, and laboratory approaches to holistically investigate both the proximate and evolutionary explanations for primate behavior.  I am currently pursuing several projects relating to this research theme.

Firstly, I am interested in how the spatial and temporal distribution of food influences the competitive regimes in which primates live.  To test these questions I am currently working with wild marmoset monkeys in Brazil which exploit both renewable and depletable food resources.  I am also interested in this species’ use of olfaction to communicate information about food resources.

A second branch of my research investigates how primates use behavior and physiology to respond to their thermal environment.  This research is being conducted on wild howling monkeys in Costa Rica.

I have also done extensive work into the social behavior of white-faced saki monkeys.  This species displays variation in social system, with some groups being pair living and monogamous, while others have multiple adults and practice polygamy.  I am broadly interested in the ecological, demographic, and physiological factors that drive this variation in social system.

Thompson, C.L.  Non-monogamous copulations and potential within-group mating competition in white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia).  American Journal of Primatology.  75: 817-824.
Thompson, C.L., Robl, N.J., Melo, L.C., Valença-Montenegro, M.M., Maranhão Valle, Y.B., Oliveira, M.A. & Vinyard, C.J.  Spatial distribution and exploitation of gouged trees by common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus).  International Journal of Primatology. 34(1): 65-85.

Thompson, C.L., Norconk, M.A. & Whitten, P.L.  Why fight? Selective forces favoring between-group aggression in a variably pair-living primate, the white-faced saki (Pithecia pithecia).  Behaviour.  149: 795-820.

Vinyard, C.J., Glander, K.E., Teaford, M.F., Thompson, C.L., Deffenbaugh, M. & Williams, S.H.  Methods for developing an ecological physiology of feeding in free-ranging howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata) at La Pacifica, Costa Rica.  International Journal of Primatology. 33(3): 611-631.

Barnett, A.A., Boyle, S.A., Norconk, M.N., Alvim, T.H.G., Bowler, M., Chism, J., Di Fiore, A., Fernandez-Duque, E., Guimarães, A.C.P., Harrison-Levine, A., Haugaasen, T., Lehman, S., MacKinnon, K.C., de Melo, F.R., Moreira, L.S., Moura, V.S., Palminteri, S., Pinto, L.P., Port-Carvalho, M., Santos, R.R., Setz, E.Z.F., Shaffer, C., Silva, L.R., Silva, S.S.B., Thompson, C.L., Veiga, L.M., Vieira, T.M., Walker-Pacheco, S.E., Spironello, W.R., MacLarnon, A. & Ferrari, S.F.  Terrestrial activity in Pitheciins (Cacajao, Chiropotes and Pithecia).  American Journal of Primatology. 74: 1106-1127.

Thompson, C.L., Whitten, P.L, & Norconk, M.A.  Can male white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) detect female reproductive state?  Behaviour. 148: 1313-1331.

Thompson, C.L. & Norconk, M.A.  Within-group social bonds in white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) display male–female pair preference.  American Journal of Primatology. 73(10): 1051-1061.

Thompson, C.L.  Intraspecific killing of a male ocelot.  Mammalian Biology. 76: 377-379.

Thompson, C.L., Jackson, E.M., Stimpson, C.D., Horne, W.I. & Vinyard, C.J.  The influence of experimental manipulations on chewing speed during in vivo laboratory research in tufted capuchins (Cebus apella).  American Journal of Physical Anthropology.  145(3): 402-411.

Smith, H.M. & Thompson, C.L.  Observations of hand preference in wild groups of white-faced sakis (Pithecia pithecia) in Suriname.  American Journal of Primatology.  73(7): 655-664.

Meindl, R., Roldan Amaro, R., Thompson, C.L., Gregory, T., Alvarez Izazaga, M. & Saucedo Arteaga, G.  The effects of public infrastructure and household characteristics on inequality and infant mortality in Mexico: what has changed between 1990 and 2005?  Social Medicine. 5(2): 90-99.

Roldán Amaro, J.A., Saucedo Arteaga, G., Álvarez Izazaga, M., Meindl, R., Thompson, C.L. & Gregory, T.  Geografía social de zonas críticas en México, su context economic politico: 1982-2005.  Estudios de Anthopología Biológica.  14(2): 503-522.

Williams, S.H., Vinyard, C.J., Glander, K.E., Deffenbaugh, M., Teaford, M.F. & Thompson, C.L.  Telemetry system for assessing jaw-muscle function in free-ranging primates.  International Journal of Primatology.  29(6):1441-1453.


Page last modified August 22, 2013