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Richard McFarland

Richard McFarland

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Staff Group(s)


Richard McFarland is a Senior Lecturer in Evolution and Social Behaviour in the School of Social Sciences.

Career overview

I graduated with a BSc in Biology from Cardiff University, a MRes in Primatology from the University of Roehampton, and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Lincoln. From 2012 to 2014 I completed a Claude-Leon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the School of Physiology at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. From 2014 to 2020 I held an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA, and was promoted to Associate Professor in August 2020. I returned home to the UK and joined NTU Psychology in August 2021. I also hold affiliate faculty positions in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of South Africa, and the School of Physiology at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Research areas

The underlying objective of my current program of research is to examine the physiological mechanisms that underpin the relationship between primate behaviour, individual fitness, and population survivability, with a particular emphasis on primate social evolution. I am director of the Swebeswebe Primate Research Project and have studied wild primates in South Africa since 2012. While most of my research is observational in nature, I also take experimental and mechanistic modelling approaches to the study of primate environmental physiology and biological evolution.

I am a member of the Evolution and Social Interaction Research Group.


McFarland R, Henzi SP, Fuller A, Hetem RS, Young C & Barrett L. 2022. The thermal consequences of primate birth hour and its evolutionary implicationsBiology Letters 18: 20210574.

McFarland R, Henzi SP, Barrett L, Bonnell T, Fuller A, Young C & Hetem RS. 2021. Fevers and the social costs of acute infection in wild vervet monkeysProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118: e2107881118.

Mathewson PD, Porter WP, Barrett L, Fuller A, Henzi SP, Hetem RS, Young C & McFarland R. 2020. Field data confirm the ability of a biophysical model to predict wild primate body temperatureJournal of Thermal Biology 94: 102754.

McFarland R, Barrett L, Fuller A, Hetem RS, Porter WP, Young C & Henzi SP. 2020. Infrared thermography cannot be used to approximate core body temperature in wild primatesAmerican Journal of Primatology 82: e23204.

McFarland R, Barrett L, Fuller A, Hetem RS, Maloney SK, Mitchell D & Henzi SP. 2020. Keeping cool in the heat: Behavioral thermoregulation and body temperature patterns in wild vervet monkeysAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology 171: 407-418.

Young C, Bonnell TR, Brown L, Dostie MJ, Ganswindt A, Kienzle S, McFarland R, Barrett L & Henzi SP. 2019. Climate induced stress and mortality in vervet monkeysRoyal Society Open Science 6: 191078.

Young C, McFarland R, Ganswindt G, Young MM, Barrett L & Henzi SP. 2019. Male residency and dispersal triggers in a seasonal breeder with influential femalesAnimal Behaviour 154: 29-37.

McFarland R, Henzi SP & Barrett L. 2019. The social and thermal competence of wild vervet monkeys. In: Savannah Monkeys: The Genus Chlorocebus, Trudy Turner (ed). Cambridge University Press, UK.

McFarland R. 2019. Social grooming. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior,  J Vonk & TK Shackelford (ed).  Springer.

McFarland R. 2019. Grooming. In: Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior,  J Vonk & TK Shackelford (ed).  Springer.

McFarland R. 2019. Grooming. In: The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology, W Trevathan (ed).  John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Minkner MMI, Young C, Amici F, McFarland R, Barrett L, Grobler JP, Henzi SP & Widdig A. 2018. Assessment of male reproductive skew via highly polymorphic 1 STR markers in wild vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus pygerythrusJournal of Heredity 109: 780-790.

Balasubramaniam KN, Beisner BA, Berman CM, De Marco A, Duboscq J, Koirala S, Majolo B, MacIntosh AJ, McFarland R, Molesti S, Ogawa H, Petit O, Schino G, Sosa S, Sueur C, Thierry B, de Waal FBM & McCowan B. 2018. The influence of phylogeny, social style, and sociodemographic factors on variation in macaque social networksAmerican Journal of Primatology 80: e22727.

Young C, Ganswindt A, McFarland R, de Villiers C, van Heerden J, Ganswindt S, Barrett L & Henzi SP. 2017. Faecal glucocorticoid metabolite monitoring as a measure of physiological stress in captive and wild vervet monkeys. General and Comparative Endocrinology 253: 53–59.

McFarland R, Murphy D, Lusseau D, Henzi SP, Parker JL, Pollet TV & Barrett L. 2017. The 'strength of weak ties' among female baboons: fitness-related benefits of social bondsAnimal Behaviour 126: 101-106.

Young C, McFarland R, Barrett L & Henzi SP. 2017. Formidable females and the power trajectories of socially integrated male vervet monkeysAnimal Behaviour 125: 61-67.

Henzi SP, Hetem R, Fuller A, Maloney SK, Young C, Mitchell D, Barrett L & McFarland R. 2017. Consequences of sex-specific sociability for thermoregulation in male vervet monkeys during winter. Journal of Zoology 302: 193-200.

McFarland R, Henzi SP, Barrett L, Wanigaratne A, Coetzee E, Fuller A, Hetem RS, Mitchell D & Maloney SK. 2016. Thermal consequences of increased pelt loft infer an additional utilitarian function for groomingAmerican Journal of Primatology 78: 456-461.

Lehmann J, Majolo B & McFarland R. 2016. The effects of social network position on the survival of wild Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanusBehavioral Ecology 27: 20-28.

McFarland R, Fuller A, Hetem RS, Mitchell D, Maloney SK, Henzi SP & Barrett L. 2015. Social integration confers thermal benefits in a gregarious primateJournal of Animal Ecology 84: 871-878.

Lubbe A, Hetem RS, McFarland R, Barrett L, Henzi SP, Mitchell D, Meyer LCR, Maloney SK & Fuller A. 2014. Thermoregulatory plasticity in free-ranging vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus pygerythrusJournal of Comparative Physiology B 184: 799-809.

McFarland R, Barrett L, Boner R, Freeman NJ & Henzi SP. 2014. Behavioral flexibility of vervet monkeys in response to climatic and social variabilityAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology 154: 357-364.

McFarland R & Majolo B. 2013. Coping with the cold: predictors of survival in wild Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanusBiology Letters 9: 20130428.

McFarland R, MacLarnon A, Heistermann M & Semple S. 2013. Physiological stress hormone levels and mating behaviour are negatively correlated in male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)Animal Biology 63: 331-341.

Majolo B, McFarland R, Young C & Qarro M. 2013. The effect of climatic factors on the activity budgets of a temperate primate, the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus). International Journal of Primatology 34: 500-514.

McFarland R, Hetem R, Fuller A, Mitchell D, Henzi SP & Barrett L. 2013. Assessing the reliability of biologger techniques to measure activity in a free-ranging primate. Animal Behaviour 85: 861-866.

McFarland R, Roebuck H, Yan Y, Majolo B, Li W & Guo K. 2013. Social interactions through the eyes of macaques and humans. PLoS ONE 8: e56437.

McFarland R & Majolo B. 2013. The importance of considering the behavioural form of reconciliation in studies of conflict resolution. International Journal of Primatology 34: 15-29.

McFarland R & Majolo B. 2012. The occurrence and benefits of post-conflict bystander affiliation in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Animal Behaviour 84: 583-591.

McFarland R & Majolo B. 2011. Exploring the components, asymmetry and distribution of relationship quality in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). PLoS ONE 6: e28826.

McFarland R & Majolo B. 2011. Grooming coercion and the post-conflict trading of social services in wild Barbary macaques. PLoS ONE 6: e26893.

McFarland R & Majolo B. 2011. Reconciliation and the costs of aggression in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus): a test of the integrated hypothesis. Ethology 117: 928-937.

Majolo B & McFarland R. 2009. Self-suckling in Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) mothers before and after the death of their infant. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140: 381-383.

See all of Richard McFarland's publications...