Jean-Baptiste Leca, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Board of Governors Research Chair (Tier II)
Department of Psychology
University of Lethbridge


I am an Associate Professor and a Board of Governors Research Chair (Tier II: Origins & Explorations) in the Department of Psychology at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
I am also an Adjunct Faculty at the School of Natural and Engineering Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India.

My primary research interest focuses on understanding behavioral innovations and traditions in non-human primates by taking a Tinbergian approach. I explore the ways in which non-adaptive cultural behavioral patterns may originate, spread within social groups, and be maintained and transformed over time. I believe that the study of such phenomena will truly expand our understanding of Darwinian evolutionary theory. To achieve these goals, I have been taking an integrative approach to the study of primate behavior and cognition by adopting multiple proximate-level (e.g., developmental, mechanistic) and ultimate-level (e.g., functional, phylogenetic) perspectives.

I have conducted observational and experimental behavioral research on a variety of captive, semi-free ranging, and wild groups of primates for seventeen years. Some of the specific topics on which I have published include complex social interactions, group movement, innovative and traditional behaviors, social learning, object manipulation, object play, foraging activities, tool-use, manual preference, and mate choice. I employ comparative, longitudinal, experimental, and physiological approaches in my research, that intersect with disciplines such as Psychology, Ethology, Anthropology, Ecology, and Endocrinology.

After a general education in Biology, I earned a M.Sc. in Neuroscience (1998) and a Ph.D. in Ethology (2002) from the University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France, under the supervision of Drs. Bernard Thierry and Odile Petit.

From 2003 to 2005 and from 2007 to 2009, I was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute, Inuyama, Japan, working in collaboration with Dr. Michael A. Huffman.

In 2010, I was a visiting researcher at the Primate Research Center, Udayana University, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, in collaboration with Dr. I Nengah Wandia. Since 2015, I am continuing this research collaboration with Dr. Wandia in Bali.

From 2011 to 2014, I was a post-doctoral research fellow and sessional lecturer in the Department of Psychology, at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, working in collaboration with Dr. Paul L. Vasey.

For further details, here is my curriculum vitae.

Contact information

Postal address:

Department of Psychology (office: C880, University Hall)
University of Lethbridge
4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, Alberta, T1K3M4, CANADA

Telephone: +1 (403) 329-2436 (office) or +1 (403) 929-2790 (mobile)

Email address: [email protected]