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Britt Singletary

About Britt Singletary

I am a doctoral candidate in Biological Anthropology in the School of Anthropology, and I am minoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology through the EEB department here at the University of Arizona. My primary advisor is Ivy Pike, PhD. My current research focuses on the broader evolutionary processes that have led to the origins and maintenance of extensive allomaternal care (AMC) in humans. I am also interested in investigating the use of complex signals (e.g., multiple messages sent through multiple sensory modalities) in human and nonhuman primate groups. I am currently All But Dissertation (ABD) and working on my dissertation project, entitled "Who cares? How caregivers influence communicative and cognitive competence during early development."

My dissertation project investigates how humans develop early communicative and cognitive skills during the pre-verbal development phase through multiple interactions with caregivers other than the primary caregiver. The results of this research may reveal additional benefits associated with the use of extensive allomaternal care in our species, suggesting that it isn’t all about energy. 

I am currently a GTA/Instructor in EEB for ECOL182L Online.

Selected Publications

Tecot, S, Singletary, B, Eadie, E. (2015). Why “monogamy” isn’t good enough. Am J Primatol, Special Issue on Monogamy. Available for early view online: DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22412.

Tecot, S, Singletary, B, Eadie, E. (2014). Pair-living and pair-bonding in the red-bellied lemur, Eulemur rubriventer [Abstract]. Am J Phys Anthropol. 153(S38):252.

Singletary, B, Cortes, N, Tecot, S. (2013). Maintaining pair-bonds in red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer): A preliminary captive study at Duke Lemur Center, Durham, NC [Abstract]. Am J Phys Anthropol. 150(S56):256

Tecot, S, Singletary, B. (2013). Behavioral and physiological characteristics of monogamous pair-bonds in the red-bellied lemur, Eulemur rubriventer [Abstract]. Invited symposium, Monogamy in Primates: Variability, Trends, and Synthesis. K Bales and S Diaz-Munoz, organizers. Am J Primatol. 75(S1):30

Singletary, B, Herrera, JP, Tecot, S. (2012). Is there an environmental effect on acoustic strategies of black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata editorum) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar [Abstract]? Am J Phys Anthropol. 147(S54):270.

Courses Taught

ECOL182L Online (Introduction to Biology 2: Lab)- Fall 2018
ECOL182L (Introduction to Biology 2: Lab)- Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017
ANTH170C1 Online (Human Variation in the Modern World, Summer Session)- Summer 2015, 2016, 2017
ANTH160A1 Online (Patterns in Prehistory, Summer Session)- Summer Session 2013 and 2014

Graduate Teaching Assistant: F2012 and F2013: ANTH364 (Natural History of Our Closest Relatives); S2013: ANTH324 (The Human Machine); F2014 and F2015: ANTH170C1 (Human Variation in the Modern World); S2014: ANTH365 (Human Evolution)

Graduate Research Assistant: F2013: Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI)

Areas of Study

Human Biology, Allomaternal Care, Child Development, Evolutionary Biology, Primatology


Dissertation Project, "Who cares? How caregivers influence communicative and cognitive competence during early development":

Humans are unique in our expression of extensive allomaternal care (AMC—care from someone other than the mother). AMC supplements an infant’s intense energy needs, yet is also very likely to play a significant role in shaping communicative and cognitive development in children, a benefit requiring further exploration. A rich signaling environment enhances infant perceptual abilities, brain development, and cognitive skills. Considerable AMC creates opportunities for children to interact with different signalers (e.g., nannies, grandmothers, uncles, and/or older siblings), which may therefore affect individual fitness outcomes. This research aims to improve our understanding of the evolution and maintenance of human AMC practices by investigating whether AMC influences communicative and cognitive outcomes. This project examines how care impacts developmental outcomes in children using a novel combination of interdisciplinary methods, including questionnaires, daily diaries, interviews, laboratory tasks, and clinical cognitive measures. Participants include infants aged 13 to 18 months and their mothers recruited in Tucson, AZ. This study will help determine whether AMC improves early developmental outcomes, such that infants exposed to high levels of AMC develop communicative and cognitive competence sooner than infants exposed to low levels of AMC. Identifying how exposure to AMC creates different cognitive and communicative developmental trajectories will enrich our understanding of why extensive AMC evolved and was maintained in our species.

Research Interests

My background in anthropology is very broad, and I consider myself an anthropologist classically brought up across four fields. Outside of my primary research area, linguistics and ethnomusicology (the study of how humans use music) are favorites of mine. My life-long obsession with music and sound has influenced my academic interests in the evolution of communication systems and music, setting the stage for my Master's work investigating multimodal signaling in captive red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer). My current research focuses on signaling between human caregivers and young infants, investigating how early exposure to many caregivers impacts communicative and cognitive development.

Britt Singletary's picture

Contact Information

Office: Haury Rm 408B
Office Hours: By Appointment


BA in Anthropology with a minor in Women's and Genders Studies - University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL) May 2010

MA in Biological Anthropology - University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ) May 2013