Primate Immunogenetics and Molecular Ecology Research Group (PrIME)

Jurgi Cristobal Azkaratejurgi
Temporary Lecturer in Human Biology

T: +44 (0) 1223 761227
F: +44 (0) 1223 335460

Previous positions

Faculty. Wildlife Health Laboratory, Center for Tropical Research, University of Veracruz

Postdoctoral Fellow. Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California



I graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Zaragoza, Spain, in 1998 and received my PhD in Primate Behaviour from the University of Barcelona in 2004. My PhD thesis focused on the effects of forest fragmentation on the viability of howler monkey populations at Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Following my PhD, I started a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California, studying the distribution and habitat preferences of howler and spider monkeys in the Sian Ka´an-Calakmul Biological Corridor of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

In 2006 I started working as a Faculty Researcher at the Center for Tropical Research, University of Veracruz, Mexico, where I also founded the Eco-Physiology Laboratory. My research focused on wildlife health, with an emphasis on the effects of the transformation of natural habitats on physiology and fitness. My research included bio geographical, demographical, behavioural, parasitological, endocrinological and genetic approaches. The study species included howler and spider monkeys, jaguars, pumas and tapirs.

In Cambridge my research has focused on primate endocrinology, and in particular, the study of thyroid hormones (T3) in relation to climate, diet and reproduction. 

spider monkeys

Research interests

My main interest is in wildlife energetic endocrinology. This includes traditional approaches based on the quantification of glucocorticoids in faeces to study the effects of food availability, foraging effort, and climate on energetic stress. Glucocorticoids in this context would be a biomarker of energetic imbalances and the organism’s need to mobilise energy reserves. In addition, I have been studying T3 in faeces of howler monkeys and Barbary macaques for the past five years, first using RIA (Wasser et al., 2010), and now ELISA, for which I have adapted our original protocol. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolic rate and accordingly their variation has been associated to energy spending versus conserving states: i.e. growth, thermogenesis, reactivity to stressors versus undernutrition, torpor.... Accordingly, the information generated by the analysis of this hormone is highly compatible to that of glucocorticoids and reproductive hormones, and it can bring a great of deal of insight into the adaptive responses of wildlife to their social and ecological challenges.

Current projects

My current projects include the study of the effect of food availability, climate, and mating in T3 levels in Barbary macaques in the Middle Atlas of Morocco (Professors Ann MacLarnon and Stuart Semple of, University of Roehampton, London); the effect of food provisioning during winter in levels of T3 in snub-nose monkeys in China (Dr. Zuofu Xiang, Central South University of Forestry and Technology); and landscape and behavioural predictors of glucocorticoid and T3 levels in spider monkeys in Mexico (Dr Victor Arroyo-Rodríguez of Autonomous National University, Mexico). I am also collaborating with Dr. Jacob Dunn (University of Cambridge) on the development of protocols to quantify hormones in hair samples of howler monkeys, and with Dr. Constance Dubuc  (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Marta Manzer (University of Zurich) to do the same in meerkat hair. The motivation for analysing hair is to use samples from museum specimens to conduct cross-species hormonal comparisons, and to provide an alternative to the use of blood to analyse hormones in meerkats.

Selected Publications

1. Dunn JC, Halenar L, Davies T, Cristobal-Azkarate J, Sykes D, Dengg S, Reby D, Fitch T, Knapp L. Evolutionary tradeoff between vocal tract and testes dimensions in howler monkeys. Current Biology (in press).Click for PDF of Curriculum VitaeClick for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

2. Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Dunn JC, Domingo- Balcells C, Veà-Baró J. 2015. A ten-year demographic history of a population of howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) living in a fragmented landscape in  Mexico. PeerJ Prepr 3: e800v1. preprints.800v1Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

3. Ordóñez-Gómez JD, Arroyo-Rodríguez V, Nicasio-Arzeta S, Cristóbal-Azkarate J. 2015. Which is the appropriate scale to assess the impact of landscape spatial configuration on the diet and behavior of spider monkeys? Am J Primatol 1: 56-65 doi: 10.1002/ajp.22310Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

4. Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Dunn JC, Day JMW, Amábile-Cuevas CF. 2014. Resistance to antibiotics of clinical relevance in the fecal microbiota of Mexican Wildlife. PLoS One9: e107719 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107719Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

5. Aguilar-Melo A, Andersen E, Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Arroyo-Rodríguez V, Chavira R, Schondube J, Serio-Silva JC, Cuarón AD. 2013. Behavioral and physiological responses to subgroup size and number of people in howler monkeys inhabiting a forest fragment used for nature-based tourism. A J Primatol 75: 1108-116 doi: 10.1002/ajp.22172Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

6. Dunn JC, Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Schulte-Herbrüggen R, Chavira R, Veà JJ, 2013. Travel time predicts fecal glucocorticoid levels in free-ranging howler monkeys. Int J Primatol 34: 246-259 doi: 10.1007/s10764-013-9657-0Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

7. Dunn JC, Cristóbal-Azkarate J. Veà JJ. Seasonal variations in the diet and feeding effort of two groups of howler monkeys in different sized forest fragments. Int J Primatol 31: 887-903 doi: 10.1007/s10764-010-9436-0Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

8. Wasser SK, Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Booth RK, Hayward L, Hunt K, Ayres K, Vynne C, Gobush K, Canales-Espinosa D, Rodríguez-Luna E. 2010. Non-invasive measurement of thyroid hormone in feces of a diverse array of avian and mammalian species. Gen Comp Endocrinol 168:1-7 doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2010.04.004Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

9. Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Chavira R, Boeck L, Rodríguez-Luna E, Veà JJ. 2007. Glucocorticoid levels in free ranking resident mantled howlers: a study of coping strategies. Am J Primatol 69: 866-876 doi: 10.1002/ajp.20383Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

10. Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Chavira R, Boeck L, Rodríguez-Luna E, Veà JJ. 2006. Testosterone levels of free-ranging resident mantled howler monkey males in relation to the number and density of solitary males: A test of the challenge hypothesis. Horm Behav 49: 261-267 doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.07.015Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

11. Cristóbal-Azkarate J, Veà JJ, Asensio N, Rodríguez-Luna E. 2005. Biogeographical and floristic predictors of the presence and abundance on mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata mexicana) in rainforest fragments at Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. Am J Primatol 67: 209-222 doi: 10.1002/ajp.20178Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae

Prospective Students

I am always interested to hear from talented and motivated students who are interested in my areas of research. Please contact me by email with a copy of your CV and a short statement of your interests.

Curriculum viate:Click for PDF of Curriculum Vitae (updated Feb 2015)

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