• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Biological Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Biological Anthropology

With the majority of primate species being threatened with habitat change from both anthropogenic and natural causes, there are serious implications for the viability of many species, as well as for the ecosystems which they inhabit. This is exacerbated by the fact that over 80% of endangered primate species are endemic to biodiversity hotspots, which are are ecoregions that make up only 1.4% of the Earth’s land surface, yet contain most of its biodiversity. Thus, by examining threats to nonhuman primates in these areas we will also be looking at threats to these ecosystems in general and investigating options for long term conservation and viability of these valuable areas. Some of the threats to be considered are habitat loss (both natural and anthropogenic), hunting of species for human consumption, or medicinal use, the pet trade and disease risk to humans and non-human primates that may result from such practises.


Specifically this course, we will investigate issues of primate conservation by first understanding how primate biology and how intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence their vulnerability to threats. We will then look at how they interact with their natural environment and how we can determine population viability using population demographics, life history data and genetic variation.  We will then discuss the primary causes of declines in primate populations, including analyses of major threats (listed above).  We will also discuss issues associated with these declines such as marginalization of animals and groups, increasing conflict between humans and non human primates and genetic bottlenecks. Finally, we will critically examine the solutions and tactics proposed to reduce and hopefully eliminate these major threats to primates and associated ecosystems.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Integrate information learned about primate species biology and ecology with information regarding tropical forest dynamics to think about population viability and conservation in the long term.
  2. Identify key threats to primate species and the ecosystems they inhabit
  3. Select and combine information from a variety of academic resources to identify the pros and cons of commonly used conservation tactics and to critically evaluate the role of conservation agencies in past and current conservation projects
  4. Use a case study of the use of local traditions in grassroots conservation initiatives to understand how different cultures view primates and the importance of conserving them and their habitat
  5. Use historical examples to predict how biodiversity regions may be expected to respond to current habitat changes, both due to natural and anthropogenic phenomenon and to determine which species are more or less vulnerable to these new threats
  6. Discuss ideas relevant to course material and ask peers well-thought out questions on relevant to course readings as they relate to case studies presented

Indicative Assessment

Midterm Examination 25% (LO 1, 2),

250 word proposal essay proposal 5% (LO 1, 2, 3),

3000 word essay 35% (LO 1,2, 3) ,

Tutorial presentation 20% (LO 4, 6),


1500 word online discussion 15% (LO 5)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


2 hours of lectures and one hour of tutorial per week, plus an additional 4 x 1 hour tutorials to be held during the semester. It is expected students will have an additional 6.5 hours of independent study time each week (tutorial and lecture reading, tutorial prep, essay writing) to total 130 hours for the semester.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level Anthropology (ANTH) Biological Anthropology (BIAN), Archaeology (ARCH), Biology (BIOL), Earth and Marine Science (EMSC) or Environment Studies (ENVS) courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed BIAN6520.

Prescribed Texts

Cowlishaw G. & Dunbar, R. 2000. Primate Conservation Biology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press

Assumed Knowledge

This course does not assume any prior knowledge of primate biology or conservation practices.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $4146
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9431 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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