Hunting & Health

Our research investigates the costs and benefits of hunting to human health, with a focus on interactions between nutrition and infectious diseases. Hunting and the consumption of animal-based foods is considered a major driving force in human biological and behavioral evolution. Good nutrition is critical for growth, maintenance (e.g. immune function and pathogen resistance), and reproduction. Animal foods are particularly valuable, as they offer a balance of essential amino acids and increased bioavailability of micro and macronutrients that can be difficult to obtain from plants alone. Hunting hypotheses thereby posit that derived human traits, including our intelligence, emotions, and sociality are evolutionary products of access to nutritionally dense animal foods and the hunting adaptation. However, hunting and consuming meat is associated with energetic and infectious disease risks. For example, the cut hunter hypothesis puts a modern day “bushmeat” hunter as patient zero for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and other zoonotic pathogens are known to spillover into humans from wildlife regularly, and unsustainable hunting threatens biodiversity and food security long-term. Ultimately, our research aims to understand risk and resilience of hunting societies to ecological change and identify opportunities for synergistic public health and conservation action.

Hunter butchering wild meat (left) and child selling bushmeat in local village (right) illustrates the conflicting health risks and benefits associated with hunting.

Photo by CERCOPAN

Human-wildlife contact

Rodents

Supported by:

U.S. Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (TIES)  Small Grant provided through Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and implemented by World Learning​

National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Directorate of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences  (SBE -1604902)

​Primate Conservation Inc.

National Institutes for Health Parasitology and Vector Biology Training Grant     

​Kohler Fellow at Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery 

​Fulbright Institute of International Education Scholarship