Monique Borgerhoff Mulder

Monique Borgerhoff Mulder

Position Title

Department of Anthropology, College of Letters and Science
Center for Population Biology
Graduate Group in Ecology

218 Young Hall

Profile Introduction

As regards education, I obtained my degrees from the University of Edinburgh, UK and Northwestern University, USA. Teaching and research have taken me to the University of Nairobi (Population Studies and Research Institute), the University of Cambridge (Large Animal Research Group), the Serengeti Wildlife Research Institute, the University of Michigan (Evolution and Human Behavior Program) and the University of Bielefeld (Ziff). I have done fieldwork in Kenya (Kericho District) and Tanzania (Arusha and Rukwa Regions). As regards research, I have three major interests: Human behavioural ecology (studying marriage, fertility, parental investment, resource use and demographic transition theory); the application of phylogenetic methods to the analysis of comparative questions in sociocultural anthropology; and conservation biology (particularly the interface between the social and natural sciences in the study of natural resource use; there is a book on this almost in press). Current students study demography, marriage, nutrition and health at our study site in Rukwa Region and in Togo, behavioural ecology and natural resource use in Rukwa and Ecuador, and conservation policy in the developing world.

Research Interests

I apply evolutionary theory to human social behaviour, working in areas of life history theory, sexual selection, ineauality and the cooperation over management of natural resources. My area of geographic specialization is East Africa.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Graduate Group in Ecology
  • Population Biology

Specialties / Focus

  • Behavior, Physiology and Morphology
  • Systematics and Comparative Biology


  • ANT 101 Principles in Human Ecology, Winter
  • ANT 103 Conservation and People, Spring
  • ANT 227 Behavioral Ecology and Anthropology, Spring

Field Sites

  • Rukwa Region, Tanzania
  • Kericho District, Kenya
  • Arusha Region, Tanzania
  • Pemba, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Honors and Awards

  • NSF IBSS-Ex. “The Nature of Wealth, Wealth Inequality, and the Polygyny Paradox”. With Sam Bowles and Rob Boyd
  • National Science Foundation NSF "The effect of social networks on inequality". With Jeremy Koster, Elly Power, Sam Bowles, Matt Jackson, Paul Hooper and Simon Dedeo


  • 1986 PhD Anthropology Northwestern University
  • 1975 MA Social Anthropology University of Edinburgh


Ross CT, Borgerhoff Mulder, M et al. (2018), Greater wealth inequality, less polygyny: Rethinking the polygyny threshold model. Royal Society Interface

Andrews J, Borgerhoff Mulder M. (2018). Cultural Group Selection and the Design of REDD+: Insights from Pemba. Sustainability Science 

Lawson, DW, James, S., Ngadaya, E., Ngowi, B., Mfinanga, SGM and M. Borgerhoff Mulder (2015).   No evidence that polygynous marriage is a harmful cultural practice in northern Tanzania  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Seel, S. J., Mgawe, P., Caro T. and M. Borgerhoff Mulder (2012). The History and Traditions of the Pimbwe. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers

Brooks, J.S., Waylen, K.A., and M. Borgerhoff Mulder (2012). How national context, project design, and local community characteristics influence success in community-bases conservation projects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Borgerhoff Mulder, M., S. Bowles, T. Hertz, et al. (2009). The Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth and the Dynamics of Inequality in Pre-Modern Societies. Science 

Brown, G. R., K. N. Laland, and M. Borgerhoff Mulder. (2009). Bateman’s principles and human sex roles. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 

Borgerhoff Mulder, M. & Coppolillo, P. (2005). Conservation: Linking Ecology, Economics and Culture. Princeton University Press.