Dr. Ian ColquhounAssociate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Office: Social Science Centre 3428
Telephone: 519-661-2111 x 85061
Transdisciplinary in scope, Dr. Colquhoun’s research interests span the disciplines of anthropology (both biological and sociocultural anthropology); primatology, biology/ecology, conservation biology, bioarchaeology, and skeletal biology. Dr. Ian Colquhoun’s doctoral research was based in northwestern Madagascar, was on black lemur socioecology, and had an ecological focus which incorporated conservation biology considerations (e.g., the response of lemurs to habitat disturbance). His fieldwork experience convinced him of the necessity of incorporating ethnoprimatological approaches into field primatology. Currently, Dr. Colquhoun continues to champion this aim. He was a member of an ad hoc committee (2006 through 2008) of the International Primatological Society (IPS) tasked with setting Guidelines for IPS members wishing to undertake ‘Conservation through Community Involvement’ (CCI) and drafting a Position Statement for IPS regarding CCI. Dr. Colquhoun has also utilized his research background in field primatology to contribute to primate conservation efforts (e.g., Schwitzer et al., 2014).
Dr. Colquhoun’s research has covered primate behavior, socioecology, biogeography, and conservation biology. His primatological research has also incorporated Ethno primatological and community-based conservation perspectives. Moreover, his broad training in anthropology and biology has also allowed Dr. Colquhoun to engage in bioarchaeological and biological anthropological research, which has served him well in advising students in both the Department’s Archaeology and Bioarchaeology graduate programs. Similarly, the ecological nature of his primatological research also served him in his capacity as Chair of the Master’s in Environment and Sustainability (MES) Program in Western’s Centre for Environment & Sustainability (2011-2017), as well as in his pursuit of collaborative research in northern Madagascar with departmental colleague Dr. Andrew Walsh.
“For knowing how the world works permits more than knowledgeable participation in the great decisions of our day. It also reveals drama everywhere – And the plays are free for those who learn how to view them.”
This quote from ecologist Paul Erhlich’s book The Machinery of Nature: The Living World Around Us and How it Works (1986: 15) captures the essence of Dr. Ian Colquhoun’s teaching and learning philosophy. Dr. Colquhoun employs multiple strategies in his teachings to make students aware of the connections between the material they read in their texts, his lectures, and the natural world out there beyond the university classroom. To Dr. Colquhoun, the fields of biological anthropology and primatology are dynamic and exciting fields of research. Dr. Colquhoun’s own research background is exemplary of Erhlich’s mantra.
Since 2008, Dr. Colquhoun in partnership with fellow AI institute member Dr. Andrew Walsh has led collaborative field research with an environmental anthropology field course in northern Madagascar, for upper-year Anthropology Majors. To date, they have had 24 undergraduates accompany them to Madagascar (2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2017). The participating students were able to gain valuable hands-on field experience in their SSHRC-funded (2010-’12, and 2014-’19) research project. This field course has been a transformative experience for a high proportion of the participating undergraduate students, as it has been a major factor in many of them deciding to go to graduate school and pursue Master’s studies. Students in his classes are taught to value the utility of an interdisciplinary approach and encouraged to adopt this powerful perspective. The bodies of knowledge which they study are continually changing, and they are immersed in fields which are ultimately about our species.
- Schwitzer, C., Mittermeier, R. A., Johnson, S. E., Donati, G., Irwin, M., Peacock, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Razafindramanana, J., Louis, E. E., Chikhi, L., Colquhoun, I. C.,Tinsman, J., Dolch, R., LaFleur, M., Nash, S., Patel, E., Randrianambinina, B.,Rasolofoharivelo, T., and Wright, P. C. (2014). Averting Lemur Extinctions amid Madagascar’s Political Crisis. Science 343 (6173): 842-843.
- Colquhoun, I.C. (2015). Community-managed conservation efforts at Tsingy Mahaloka/KOFAMA, northern Madagascar: Right place at the wrong time? Madagascar Conservation & Development 10, S1: 35-41.
- Sato, H., Santini, L., Patel, E. R.,
Campera, M., Yamashita, N., Colquhoun, I. C., and Donati, G. (2016). Dietary Flexibility and Feeding Strategies of Eulemur: A Comparison with Propithecus. International Journal of Primatology 37(1): 109-129; Special Issue – New Research Directions in the Genus Eulemur (G. Donati & S. Johnson, Guest Editors).