Professor Colleen M. Schaffner

Honorary Research Professor

Colleen investigates the behaviour, ecology and conservation of wild spider monkeys in Mexico and Cost Rica.



2011-present Research Professor, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Mexico

2007-2009 Director of the Graduate School, University of Chester

1999-2011 Professor of Behavioral Biology, University of Chester

1996 PhD. Behavioral Biology, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE, USA

1991 MSc. Animal Behaviour, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, USA


Colleen investigates the social and ecological factors that affect social behaviour in wild spider monkeys, which range from conflict management, fission decisions and the impact of natural and human disturbance. In addition, Colleen’s research has recently expanded to encompass issues that impact the conservation of endangered wild spider monkeys. Her research interests also encompass the effective management and maintenance of former pet spider monkeys in captivity, with an emphasis on the quality of social relationships among individuals.

Published work

Published work since 2010

Asensio, N., Schaffner, C. M. & Aureli, F. (2015). Quality and overlap of individual core areas are related to community tenure in female spider monkeys. American Journal of Primatology 77: 777-785. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22400

Pablo-Rodriguez, M., Aureli, F., Hernandez-Salazar, L. & Schaffner, C.M. (2015). The role of sucrose and sensory systems in fruit selection and consumption of Ateles. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 31:213-219. doi:10.1017/S0266467415000085

Matsumoto, Y., Hiramatsu, C., Matsushita, Y., Ozawa, N., Ashino, R., Nakata, M., Kasagi, S., Di Fiore, A., Schaffner, C. M., Aureli, F., Melin, A. D., & Kawamura, S. (2014). Evolutionary renovation of L/M opsin polymorphism confers a fruit discrimination advantage to ateline New World monkeys. Molecular Ecology, 23, 1799-1812. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12703

Aureli, F., Di Fiore, A., Murillo-Chacon, E., Kawamura, S. & Schaffner, C.M. (2013). Male philopatry in spider monkeys revisited. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 152, 86-95 [doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22331]

Ramos-Fernandez, G., Smith-Aguilar, S. E., Schaffner, C. M., Vick, L. G. & Aureli, F. (2013). Site fidelity in space use by spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. PLoS ONE 8: e62813.

Santorelli, C. J., Aureli, F., Ramos-Fernandez, G. & Schaffner, C.M. (2013). Individual variation of whinnies reflects differences in membership between spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) communities. International Journal of Primatology, 34, 1172-1189. DOI 10.1007/s10764-013-9736-2

Asensio, N., Schaffner, C.M. & Aureli, F. (2012). Variability in core areas of spider monkeys in a regenerating forest: implications for conservation. Primates, 53, 147-156.

Asensio, N.; Lusseau, D., Schaffner, C.M. & Aureli, F. (2012). Spider monkeys use high-quality core areas in a tropical dry forest. Journal of Zoology, 287, 250-258. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00911.x

Aureli, F., Schaffner, C.M., Asensio, N. & Lusseau, D. (2012). What is a subgroup? How socioecological factors influence inter-individual distance. Behavioral Ecology, 23(6), 1308-1315 doi:10.1093/beheco/ars122 Aureli,F., Fraser, O.N., Schaffner, C.M. & Schino, G. (2012). The regulation of social relationships. In Evolution of Primate Societies (Eds. J. Mitani, J. Call, P. Kappeler, R. Palombit, J. Silk), University of Chicago Press, pp 531-551.

Kawamura S., Hiramatsu C., Melin A.D., Schaffner C.M., Aureli F. & Fedigan L.M. (2012). Polymorphic color vision in primates: evolutionary considerations. In Post-Genome Biology of Primates, (Eds. H. Hirai, H. Imai, Y. Go) Springer, pp. 93-120.

Melin A.D., Hiramatsu C., Fedigan L.M., Schaffner C.M., Aureli F. & Kawamura S. (2012). The evolution and utility of primate color vision: Overview and case studies from two sympatric Costa Rican monkeys. In Evolutionary Biology: 15th Meeting 2011 (Ed. P. Pontarotti), Springer.

Schaffner, C.M., Rebecchini, L., Aureli, F., Ramos-Fernandez, G., & Vick, L.G. (2012). Spider monkeys cope with the negative consequences of hurricanes through changes in diet, activity budget and fission-fusion dynamics. International Journal of Primatology, 33, 922-936. DOI: 10.1007/s10764-01209621-436.

Schaffner, C.M., Slater, K. Y. & Aureli, F. (2012). Age related variation in male-male social relationships in wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis). Primates, 53, 49-56.

Ramos-Fernandez G., García-Frapolli G., Aureli F., Bonilla-Moheno M., Schaffner C.M., & Vick, L.G. (2011). El vínculo entre investigación y conservación del mono araña en Punta Laguna, Yucatán. In: La Conservación de los Primates en México, (Eds. P. Américo D. Dias, A. Rangel Negrín, & D. Canales Espinosa). Xalapa, Veracruz: Consejo Veracruzano de Investigación Cientifica y Desarrollo Tecnológico, pp. 108-122.

Rebecchini, L., Schaffner, C.M. & Aureli, F. (2011). Risk is a component of social relationships in spider monkeys. Ethology, 117, 691-699. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2011.01923.x

Santorelli, C., Schaffner, C. M., Aureli, F., Campbell, C., Notman, H., Pavelka, M., Weghorst, J. A. & Aureli, F. (2011).  Behavioural traditions in wild spider monkeys. PLoS ONE 6(2), e16863. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016863

Santorelli, C. S., Schaffner, C.M. & Aureli F. (2011). Universal behaviours as traditions in wild spider monkeys. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24400. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0024400

Sueur, C., King, A., Conradt, L., Kerth, G., Lusseau, D., Mettke-Hofmann, C., Schaffner, C. M., Williams, L., Zinner, D., & Aureli, F. (2011). Collective decision-making and fission-fusion dynamics: A conceptual framework. Oikos. 120, 1608-1617. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19685.x Impact factor 3.147