Mitchell Irwin

Professor Irwin is a biological anthropologist specializing in primate ecology and behavior. His research focuses on the ecological adaptations of Madagascar's lemurs and how habitat disturbance affects the ecology, behavior and health of individuals and populations. He has studied feeding ecology, nutrition, body mass and condition and parasitology and is also interested in how Madagascar's abiotic and biotic environment has influenced the evolution of key lemur traits such as low activity levels, cathemerality and female dominance. Professor Irwin has an ongoing field project in Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar and co-founded an NGO, SADABE, dedicated to promoting research, conservation and development.

Selected Publications

Irwin MT, Raharison JL, Raubenheimer D, Chapman C, Rothman J (2014) Nutritional correlates of the lean season: Effects of seasonality and frugivory on the nutritional ecology of diademed sifakas. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 153:78-91.

Pontzer H, Raichlen DA, Gordon AD, Schroepfer-Walker KK, Hare BA, O'Neill MC, Muldoon KM, Dunsworth HM, Wood BM, Isler K, Burkart J, Irwin M, Shumaker RW, Lonsdorf EV, Ross SR (2014) Primate energy expenditure and life history. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111:1433-1437.

Schwitzer C, Mittermeier RA, Johnson SE, Donati G, Irwin M, Peacock H, Ratsimbazafy J, Razafindramanana J, Louis Jr. EE, Chikhi L, Colquhoun IC, Tinsman J, Dolch R, LaFleur M, Nash S, Patel E, Randrianambinina B, Rasolofoharivelo T, Wright PC (2014) Averting lemur extinctions amid Madagascar's political crisis. Science 343:842-843.

Crowley BE, Godfrey LR, Irwin MT (2011) A glance to the past: Subfossils, staple isotopes, seed dispersal and lemur species loss in southern Madagascar. American Journal of Primatology 73:25-37.

Groeneveld LF, Blanco MB, Raharison JL, Rahalinarivo V, Rasolarison RM, Kappeler PM, Godfrey LR, Irwin MT (2010) MtDNA and nDNA corroborate existence of sympatric dwarf lemur species at Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55:833-845.

Irwin MT, Junge RE, Raharison JL, Samonds KE (2010) Variation in physiological health of Diademed Sifakas across intact and fragmented forest at Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar. American Journal of Primatology 72:1013-1025.

Irwin MT, Wright PC, Birkinshaw C, Fisher B, Gardner CJ, Glos J, Goodman SM, Loiselle P, Rabeson P, Raharison JL, Raherilalao MJ, Rakotondravony D, Raselimanana A, Ratsimbazafy J, Sparks J, Wilmé L, Ganzhorn JU (2010) Patterns of species change in anthropogenically disturbed forests of Madagascar. Biological Conservation 143:2351-2362.

Irwin MT, Raharison JL (2009) A review of the endoparasites of the lemurs of Madagascar. Malagasy Nature 2:66-93.

Irwin MT, Raharison JL, Wright PC (2009) Spatial and temporal variability in predation on rainforest primates: Do forest fragmentation and predation act synergistically? Animal Conservation 12:220-230.

Blanco MB, Godfrey LR, Rakotondratsima M, Rahalinarivo V, Samonds KE, Raharison JL, Irwin MT (2009) Discovery of sympatric dwarf lemur species in the high-altitude rainforest of Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar: Implications for biogeography and conservation. Folia Primatologica 80:1-17.

Wright PC, Johnson SE, Irwin MT, Jacobs R, Schlichting PE, Lehman SM, Louis EE, Arrigo-Nelson SJ, Raharison JL, Rafalirarison RR, Razafindratsita V, Ratsimbazafy J, Ratelolahy FJ, Dolch R, Tan C (2008) The crisis of the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus). Primate Conservation 23:5-17.

Irwin MT (2008) Feeding ecology of diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema) in forest fragments and continuous forest. International Journal of Primatology 29:95-115.

Irwin MT (2008) Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema) ranging and habitat use in continuous and fragmented forest: Higher density but lower viability in fragments? Biotropica 40:231-240.

Godfrey LR, Irwin MT (2007) The evolution of extinction risk: Past and present anthropogenic impacts on the primate communities of Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 78:405-419.

Godfrey LR, Jungers WL, Schwartz GT, Irwin MT (2007) Ghosts and orphans: Madagascar’s vanishing ecosystems. In: Elwyn L. Simons: A Search For Origins (J.G. Fleagle, C.C. Gilbert, eds.). New York: Springer, pp. 361-395.

Irwin MT (2007) Living in forest fragments reduces group cohesion in diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema) in eastern Madagascar, by reducing food patch size. American Journal of Primatology 69:434-447.

Irwin MT, Raharison JL, Rakotoarimanana H, Razanadrakoto E, Ranaivoson E, Rakotofanala J, Randrianarimanana C (2007) Diademed sifakas (Propithecus diadema) use olfaction to forage for the inflorescences of subterranean parasitic plants (Balanophoraceae: Langsdorffia sp. and Cytinaceae: Cytinus sp.). American Journal of Primatology 69:471-476.

Irwin MT (2006) Ecologically enigmatic lemurs: The sifakas of the eastern forests (Propithecus candidus, P. diadema, P. edwardsi, P. perrieri and P. tattersalli). In: Lemurs: Ecology and Adaptation (L. Gould & M. Sauther, eds.). New York: Springer, pp. 305-326.


Associate Professor
Stevens Building room 275

curriculum vitae
External lab website

Office Hours

12:30-3:30 p.m.

Spring 2020 Course Schedule

ANTH 240/240H
Tuesday, Thursday
9:30-10:45 a.m.
Stevens Building room 170

ANTH 449/549
Tuesday, Thursday
11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Stevens Building 178


Ph.D., Stony Brook University

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Department of Anthropology
Stevens Building Rm 190