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Brooke Scelza

Associate Professor & Vice Chair of Graduate Studies

Contact Information

Email    bscelza@anthro.ucla.edu
Office  396 Haines
Phone  310-825-1437
I am a human behavioral ecologist interested in understanding the adaptive nature of behavior as a function of local socioecological context.

My research focuses on a variety of questions related to reproductive decision-making and parental investment, and on understanding the social environment as a critical influence on how people negotiate life history trade-offs.

My current research focuses on male and female reproductive strategies both inside and outside of marriage, parental investment strategies of mothers and fathers, and the role of the mother-adult daughter relationship within the larger system of cooperative breeding.  I currently conduct fieldwork with the Himba, a semi-nomadic pastoralist group in Namibia. Previously, I worked in Australia with Martu Aborigines, looking at parental investment and the effects of demography on social support, as well as some work on diet in a mixed economy.


Ph.D., University of Washington (2008)

Selected Publications

Scelza, B.A. (2013) Choosy but not chaste: multiple mating in human females. Evolutionary Anthropology, 22:259-269. 

Scelza, B.A., Bird, D.W., Bliege Bird, R. (in press) Bush tucker, shop tucker: production, consumption and diet at an Aboriginal outstation. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 

House, B.R., Silk, J.B., Henrich, J., Barrett, H.C., Scelza, B.A., Boyette, A., Hewlett, B., Laurence, S. (2013) Cross-cultural diversity in the ontogeny of prosocial behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 

Shenk, M.K., Scelza, B.A. (2012) Paternal investment and status-related child outcomes: timing of father’s death effects. Journal of Biosocial Science. 

Scelza, B.A. (2012) Food scarcity, not economic constraint limits consumption in a rural Aboriginal community. Australian Journal of Rural Health 20(3):108-112. 

Bliege Bird, R., Scelza, B.A., Bird, D.W., Smith, E.A. (2012) The hierarchy of virtue: mutualism, altruism and signaling in Martu women’s cooperative hunting. Evolution and Human Behavior 33(1):64-78. 

Scelza, B.A. (2011) Female mobility and postmarital kin access in a patrilocal society. Human Nature 22(4):377-393. 

Scelza, B.A. (2011) Female choice and extra-pair paternity in a traditional human population. Biology Letters,7(6):889-891. 

Scelza, B.A. (2011) The place of proximity: social support in mother-adult daughter relationships. Human Nature.22(1):108-127. 

Brooke Scelza (2010). Father’s presence speeds the social and reproductive careers of sons. Current Anthropology. 51(2):295-303 

Brooke Scelza (2009). The grandmaternal niche: Critical caretaking among Martu Aborigines. American Journal of Human Biology, 21(4):448-454. 

Brooke Scelza & Rebecca Bliege Bird (2008). Group structure and female cooperative networks in Australia’s Western Desert. Human Nature 19:231-248.


Human behavioral ecology, life history theory, reproductive ecology, maternal and child health; Australia, Namibia.