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Jean-Baptiste Leca, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Psychology

University of Lethbridge



I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Between 2017 and 2020, I was a Board of Governors Research Chair (Tier II: Origins & Exploration) at the University of Lethbridge.

I am an Adjunct Faculty at the School of Natural and Engineering Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India.

I am a member of The Long-Tailed Macaque Project -- An International Conservation Collaboration.

Trained as an ethologist, I conduct field research on the mechanisms and evolution of questionably adaptive cultural behaviors in non-human primates.

I primarily study the modes of acquisition and expression of more or less functional and sometimes arbitrary forms of (1) object manipulation (e.g., object exploration, object play, extractive foraging, physical and symbolic tool use) and (2) non-conceptive sex (e.g., female-male mounting, same-sex sexual behavior, heterospecific sexually behavior, masturbation) that are socially influenced/learned and culturally maintained in several macaque species.

I employ comparative, longitudinal, experimental, and physiological approaches in my research, that intersect with disciplines such as Psychology, Ethology, Anthropology, Ecology, and Endocrinology.

Ultimately, I strive to view putative behavioral adaptations (e.g., tool use, female-male mounting) and their hypothesized by-products (e.g., object play, female-female mounting) as two complementary sides of the same evolutionary coin. I firmly believe that a focus on by-products of behavioral adaptations can truly further our understanding of evolutionary processes and the diversity of behavioral outcomes they produce, including those with no obvious survival or reproductive values. This approach is significant because the selective role of behavioral by-products has received little attention among evolutionists. Thus, my scholarly work contributes to offering a pluralistic perspective on Darwinian evolutionary theory.

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 CV:  [JB Leca's CV]

Contact information

Postal address:

Department of Psychology (office: SA8376, Science Commons)

University of Lethbridge

4401 University Drive

Lethbridge, Alberta, T1K3M4, CANADA

Telephone: +1 (403) 329-2436 (office)

Email address: [email protected]