Faculty Information

Elena P. Cunningham, MA, PhD

Clinical Associate Professor
Molecular Pathobiology
137 East 25th Street, Room 527, New York, NY 10010
Phone: 212-998-9618
Fax: 212-995-4087
E-mail: ec46@nyu.edu

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Elena Cunningham is interested in the evolution of primate cognition and use of olfaction among primates to locate resources. She is currently completing 1) the first study of a primate's ability to use olfaction to locate distant, out-of-sight resources, and 2) a study on the ability of lemurs to remember the locations of resources for 1 to 120 days. These studies were conducted at The Lemur Conservation Foundation in Myakka, Florida. She is also completing a study of the ranging and foraging behavior of the black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. The goal of this project is to determine whether the black and white ruffed lemur 1) relies on memory to locate food sources and 2) remembers the relative productivity of these sources 3) uses a targeted search strategy to identify resources. Previously, Dr. Cunningham studied the use of memory in the foraging strategy of the white faced saki monkey (Pithecia pithecia).

Elena Cunningham is co-chair of the International Primatological Society Ad Hoc Committee on Making Primate Capture Safer.


Gonzalez M, Wolk, R, and Cunningham, EP. The effect of social status on Eulemur success in a spatial memory task. XXVII Congress of the International Primatological Society in Nairobi, Kenya, 2018.

Wilkens, ME, and Cunningham, EP. Spatial memory of semi-free ranging Lemur catta. Program of the 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 165 (S66): 300, 2018. 

Wolk, R, Gonzalez, M, Janal, MN, and Cunningham, EP. Eulemur use of long-term spatial memory and olfaction to locate fruit. XXVII Congress of the International Primatological Society in Nairobi, Kenya, 2018.

Cunningham, E.P. and Schofield, L. (2010) Ecological and reproductive influences on Varecia variegate ranging and feeding behavior in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. American Journal of Physical Anthropology(Supplement 50) 89.


Complete listing available on the NYU Health Sciences Library site.

Search PubMed for articles.

Cunningham EP, Unwin S. (2018) Response to Darting Primates: Steps toward procedural and reporting standards. International Journal of Primatology. 39(6), 1017-1021. DOI: 10.1007/s10764-018-0072-4

Cunningham, E.P., Unwin, S., and Setchell, J.M. (2015) Darting Primates in the field: A survey of practices and their impact on the primates involved. International Journal of Primatology 36(5): 894-915.

Baker, E.W., Slott, P., Terracio, L. and Cunningham, E.P. (2013) An innovative method for teaching anatomy. Journal of Dental Education 77:1498-1807.

Cunningham, E.P., Harrison-Levine A. and Norman, R. (2013) Finding the Balance: Optimizing predatoravoidance and food encounters through individual positioning in Pithecia pithecia during travel. In Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Titis, Sakis and Uacaris, Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology Editors: Adrian Barnett, Liza M. Veiga, Steve F. Ferrari. Marilyn Norconk. Cambridge University Press, pp 272-276.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2007) A socioecological perspective on primate cognition, past and present. Animal Cognition 10:273-281.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2007) Integrating information about location and value of resources by white-faced saki monkeys (Pithecia pithecia) Animal Cognition 10:293-304.

Cunningham, E.P. and Janson, C.H. (2006) Pithecia pithecia's behavioral response to decreasing fruit abundance. American Journal of Primatology 68: 491-497.