Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) exhibit several interesting morphological and behavioral features. Female genitalia mimic those of males. Females are bigger and more aggressive than males, and the females and cubs in a clan dominate all the males. These features have been studied for over 25 years by a collaboration centered on a unique colony of hyenas at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, collaborators at Michigan State University are continuing 30 years of field observation of a single clan of hyenas in southern Kenya. Collaborators come from biological psychology, zoology, animal behavior, developmental biology, anatomy, endocrinology, human and veterinary medicine, neurobiology, molecular biology, and other specialties. The exceptional disciplinary breadth and longevity of the collaboration make it especially interesting. This talk summarizes the major points of interest in hyena morphology and behavior, describes the organization of the collaboration network, and discusses several interesting points made by the existence of the collaboration.
Elihu M. Gerson is a sociologist based in San Francisco. His main research interest is in the organization of technical work, especially research in evolutionary biology and related areas, where he focuses on interaction and patterns of alliance among specialties. In addition to his work on collaboration, he is currently part of a project studying the history of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley.