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Monique Borgerhoff Mulder


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Northwestern University, 1987
  • B.A., M.A Hons, Social Anthropology, Edinburgh University 1975


Monique Borgerhoff Mulder trained as a social anthropologist at the University of Edinburgh, and then worked in journalism, teaching and museum archaeology before starting a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, where she wrote a dissertation based on the application of a behavioral ecological and economic model to polygyny in rural Africa – the polygyny threshold model. After a post doc at the Evolution and Human Behavior Program at University of Michigan, she joined the UC Davis Anthropology (Evolutionary Wing) faculty in 1991.

Research Focus

Professor Borgerhoff Mulder is a human behavioral ecologist (HBE) working on projects relating to life history, inequality, natural resource management, and patterned cultural variation. With HBE she explores big "Why" questions about our species: Why do people marry? What is the basis of gender roles in economic and social behavior? Why has fertility dropped so radically in most parts of the world? How can people cooperate over natural resource management? Why is economic growth in the developing world not reducing inequality. Her students work on these and related issues. She has active conservation and development projects, both research and applied, at national and local levels in Tanzania , in Mpimbwe, with Savannas Forever Tanzania, and most recently in Pemba.

Selected Publications

  • Ross, C. T., Strimling, P., Ericksen, K., Lindenfors, P., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2016). The Origins and Maintenance of Female Genital Modification across Africa. Human Nature
  • Lawson, D. W., James, S., Ngadaya, E., Ngowi, B., Mfinanga, S. G. M., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2015). No evidence that polygynous marriage is a harmful cultural practice in northern Tanzania. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Kasper, C., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2015). Who helps and why: Cooperative networks in Mpimbwe. Current Anthropology 56: 7-1-732
  • Schacht, R., Rauch, K., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2014). Too many men? The violence, Trends in Ecology and Evolution 29(4): 214-222
  • Seel, S. J., Mgawe, P., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M.(2014). The History and Traditions of the Pimbwe. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers
  • Salerno, J. D., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., & Kefauver, S. C. (2014). Human migration, protected areas, and conservation outreach in Tanzania. Conservation Biology 28:841-850
  • Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2013) Why an ape with complex cumulative culture dominates the world: Different views. Evolutionary Anthropology 22:34-39.
  • Brooks, J. S., Waylen, K. A., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2012). How national context, project design, and local community characteristics influence success in community-based conservation projects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 109:21265-70
  • Borgerhoff Mulder, M., Bowles, S., Hertz, T., et al. (2009) The intergenerational transmission of wealth and the dynamics of inequality in pre-modern societies. Science 326: 682-88


Professor Borgerhoff Mulder teaches graduate courses in Human Behavioral Ecology, and undergraduate courses in Human Ecology, and People and Conservation.


  • Recent Grants: NSF IBSS-L (60 months 01-01-2017 to 12-01-2021). The effect of social networks on inequality: a longitudinal cross-cultural investigation. With S. Bowles, M. Jackson, J. Koster and E. Power ($860,000). UC Davis Seed Grant (24 months 2015-2017) Conservation, cooperation and carbon credits: Piloting plans for Pemba ($25,000). With Tim Caro.
  • National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESNYC) – Evolution of Sustainability (2015-16)
  • Max Planck Institute. Committee Member for selection (2014-15)
  • Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute of Advanced Studies) (2011-12)
  • Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award (2009)
  • Gerald Young Book Award for “Conservation: Linking Ecology, Economics and Culture.  Princeton University Press (2005)