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Glendon Psychology Professor Receives NSERC Grant

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Glendon psychology professor Anne Russon (right), a specialist on orangutan intelligence, was awarded a grant of $20,000 from NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) to support her continuing research in this field.

Professor Russon’s latest study, Cognitive Dimensions of Orangutan Ranging in East Borneo, will see her return to Indonesia to study the cognitive and socio-ecological bases of ranging flexibilities in east Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus morio). “Orangutan ranging is determined by cornerstones of their adaptation - food, sociality, development, learning, and cognition - and ranging flexibility is essential to cope with their food supply, which is extremely patchy in time and space”, says Russon. “This flexibility owes much to cognition, but cognitive contributions to orangutan ranging have rarely been studied.”

Left: A morio friend

Most relevant data date from 20-25 years ago and may reflect conditions that no longer exist, as natural disasters and human development have transformed traditional habitats. Russon expects her findings to enhance the understanding of orangutan and great ape spatial cognition, of Pongo pygmaeus morio itself, and of geographic variation in orangutans. Findings should also assist conservation by examining topics such as clarifying morio agendas and habitat use, and the effectiveness of relocations.

Anne Russon is a professor in Glendon’s Psychology Department and the author of numerous books and articles on orangutan intelligence.

More information about these professors and other Glendon faculty members can be found on the Glendon Research website:
http://www.glendon.yorku.ca/research

Submitted by Glendon research officer Reagan Brown


Published on May 13, 2009