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A student relaxes on the Cal U campus.A student relaxes on the Cal U campus.

Dr. Summer Arrigo-Nelson


  • B.A.: Anthropology, University of Rhode Island
  • B.S.: Zoology, University of Rhode Island
  • M.A.: Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University
  • Ph.D.: Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University


Dr. Arrigo-Nelson studies the effects of habitat disturbance on forest regeneration and primate behavior and ecology. Specifically, she is interested in how animals respond to disturbance by changing their diet and social behavior. She is also interested in social dominance and the role of age and sex in behavior and how predators and parasite infections alter behavior. Additionally, her work involves the integration of rain forest conservation and local development programs.

Since 2001, she has conducted a long-term study of the effects of habitat disturbance on the Milne-Edwards sifaka at two research sites within the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar. This project includes work on forest quality assessments and forest regeneration, examining lemur densities, ranging patterns and habitat use using GIS technology, documenting animal feeding ecology, socioecology and social behavior, demography and reproduction, parasitism and predator-prey relationships.

She worked as a visiting professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame from 2006-2008; as a program coordinator and study abroad program assistant for Stony Brook University's Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments 2001-2006; and held various teaching positions in Stony Brook's Women in Science and Engineering Program, Departments of Anthropology and Undergraduate Biology as a graduate student.

Professional Memberships

  • American Anthropological Association (AAA), American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA)_ and the Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honor Society
  • International Primatological Society (IPS)
  • Fulbright Association
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key national honor societies

Selected Publications

  • Arrigo-Nelson, S.J. (in press) Encyclopedia entries for: Propithecus edwardsi, Propithecus tattersalli Eulemur sanfordi, and Eulemur coronatus. In: All the World's Primates, N. Rowe (Ed.) Charleston, RI: Pogonias Press. [Accepted: September 2007]
  • Ratsimbazafy, J.H. Arrigo-Nelson, S.J., Dollar, L., Holmes, C.M., Irwin, M.T., Johnson, S.E., Stevens, N.J. and Wright, P.C. (in press) Conservation of prosimians in Madagascar: A view from the great red island. In: Leaping Ahead: Advances in Prosimian Biology, J. Masters, M. Gamba and F. Génin (Eds.) New York: Springer Press. [Accepter: December 2008]
  • Wright, P.C., Arrigo-Nelson, S.J., Hogg, K.L., Bannon, B., Morelli, T.-L., Wyatt, J., Harivelo, A.L., and Ratelolahy, F. (2009) Habitat disturbance and seasonal fluctuations of lemur parasites in the rain forest of Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. In: Primate Parasite Ecology: The Dynamics and Study of Host-Parasite Relationships, M. Huffman and C. Chapman (Eds.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.311-330.
  • Wright, P.C., Johnson, S.E., Irwin, M.T., Jacobs, R., Schlighting, P.E., Lehman, S.M., Louis, E.E., Arrigo-Nelson, S.J., Raharison, J.-L., Rafalirarison, R.R., Razafindratsita, V., Ratsimbazafy, J.H., Ratelolahy, F., Dolch, R. and Tan, C.L. (2008) The crisis of Prolemur simus, the greater bamboo lemur. Primate Conservation 23: 5-17.
  • King, S.J., Arrigo-Nelson, S.J., Pochron, S.T., Semprebon, G.M., Godfrey, L.R., Wright, P.C., and Jernvall, J. (2005) Hanging on to the edge: Maintenance of primate tooth function and offspring survival. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102 (46): 16579-16583.
  • Arrigo-Nelson, S.J. (2004) A biological "hotspot": A review of The Natural History of Madagascar by S.M. Goodman and J.P. Benstead (eds). Quarterly Review of Biology 79 (4): 400-403.
  • Arrigo-Nelson, S.J. and Wright, P.C. (2004) Census and survey results from Ranomafana National Park: New evidence for the effects of habitat preference and disturbance on the Genus Hapalemur. Folia Primatologica 75 (5): 331-334.

Student Mentoring Projects

  • Faculty advisor: California University of Pennsylvania, Students earning a major in biology
  • with a biology concentration, 2008-present
  • Faculty mentor: First Year of Studies Program, University of Notre Dame, 2007; Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program, Office of Learning and Research Communities, Stony Brook University [8 students, 3 went on to graduate school], 2004-2006
  • Master's thesis advisor: New Mexico State University, Las Cruses, 2006-present; University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, 2003-present
  • Senior/honors thesis mentor: Stony Brook University, University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, Humboldt State University, 2001-present
  • Field research supervisor: Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar, 1999-present

Academic Department(s)

  • Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences
  • University Honors Program

Academic Program(s)

  • B.S. Biology
  • B.S. Environmental Studies
  • B.A. International Studies

Contact Information



Frich Hall 210