Former Chair of the Master’s in Environment and Sustainability Program (2011-2017) in Western’s Centre for Environment & Sustainability, Ian Colquhoun is committed to working collaboratively with colleagues and students at the Université d’Antsiranana and with community-based conservation efforts in northern Madagascar. With over 80% of the wildlife found in Madagascar unique to the island alone, their protection is needed as human settlement encroaches.
Colquhoun’s research is, broadly speaking, on the ecology of endangered lemuroid prosimian primates and their ability to utilize habitat that has been subject to human disturbance. While these animals play a vital role in seed dispersal throughout Madagascar’s diverse forest types, it will be their capacity for resilience and use of human-modified forests that will be a key dimension of their future survival. An important aspect of Colquhoun’s research in Madagascar is a developing field known as “ethnoprimatology” – the study of interactions between human populations and co-occurring nonhuman primate populations.
As an associate professor of Anthropology at Western, Colquhoun (along with Anthropology colleague and Africa Institute affiliate, Andrew Walsh) also leads an undergraduate field course in Environmental Anthropology to northern Madagascar every other year. Learning about the fine balance between conservation and development in Madagascar, these students gain insight on the interactions and interconnections between humans and Madagascar's biodiverse flora and fauna.
Honourary Lifetime Member, Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology; elected President of the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology (2015-2018), re-elected (2018-2021).