Nicoletta Righini, PhD

Dept. of Anthropology

Urbana, IL 61801 USA,



Alouatta pigra male drinking water from a tree hole at                 El Tormento

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  • Nutritional Ecology
  • Nutritional Geometry
  • Foraging Theories
  • Food Selection
  • Behavior, Ecology, and Physiology of Neotropical Primates
  • Primate Conservation

I have studied foraging behavior in several organisms such as insects, mollusks, and primates. My current interests revolve around the factors that influence diet selection and nutrient regulation in non human primates, and their behavioral and physiological adaptations to acquire food and meet their nutritional goals.

My doctoral research examined the foraging strategies of Alouatta pigra, an endangered primate characterized by rapid growth rates and a high reproductive output compared to closely related species. 

Specifically, I analyzed patch and food choice, food intake rates, and the nutritional composition of the diet of adult howler monkeys in order to test hypotheses based on Optimal Foraging Theory, a nutrient mixing framework, and models of social foraging.

My research supported the increasing recognition that nutrient balancing is a dietary strategy used by nonhuman primates to exploit nutritionally imbalanced and complementary foods in order to meet their dietary needs.

For my doctoral dissertation I conducted a 15-month field research at El Tormento, a 1400-Ha protected seasonal forest in the state of Campeche, Mexico