Carl J. Erickson

Carl J. Erickson

Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Rutgers University 1965


The aye-aye is one of the world's most endangered animals Its unusual foraging behavior presents a provocative challenge to those interested in the evolution, development and sensory-motor coordination of complex behavior as well as to those concerned wi th the captive breeding of endangered species. The aye-aye hunts for woodboring insect larvae by tapping its middle finger on the surface of dead trees. When a cavity is detected, it uses its razor-sharp incisors to gnaw away the wood. Our studies have focused on the aye-aye's capacity to form representations of the subsurface cavities and to exploit them most efficiently. Because of our successful breeding program, Duke has the largest colony of captive-bred aye-ayes in the world. This program has allowed us a unique opportunity to study the early development of the aye-aye's complex behavior patterns. Ultimately, this research is critical to the reintroduction of this species to protected areas of Madagascar.

Erickson, C, Dirga, E, and Grassi, C. ""Strategic Tap-Scanning Behavior in the Aye-Aye" (In preparation)." Daubentonia Madagascariensis (2003). (Academic Article)

Erickson, C, Wright, MK, C, P, Simons, , and E, . ""Mother-Infant Interation in the Aye-Aye" (In preparation)." Daubentonia Madagascariensis (2003). (Academic Article)

Erickson, CJ. "Cues for prey location by aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis)." Folia Primatologica 69.SUPPL. 1 (December 1, 1998): 35-40.

Erickson, C. "Cues for Prey Location by Aye-Aye." Daubentonia Madagascariensis, Folia Pimatologica 69 (suppl) (1998): 35-40. (Academic Article)

Erickson, C, Nowicki, S, Dollar, L, and Goehring, N. "Percussive Foraging: Stimuli for Prey Location by Aye-Ayes." (Daubentonia madagascariensis) International Journal of Primatology 19 (1998): 111-122. (Academic Article)

Erickson, CJ, Nowicki, S, Dollar, L, and Goehring, N. "Percussive foraging: Stimuli for prey location by aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis)." International Journal of Primatology 19.1 (1998): 111-122.

Erickson, CJ. "Sociopathy and sociobiology: Biological units and behavioral units." Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18.3 (January 1, 1995): 555-null.

Erickson, C. "Feeding site features of the aye-aye, Daubentonia madagascariensis." American Journal of Primatology 35 (1995): 235-240. (Academic Article)

Erickson, CJ. "Tap-scanning and extractive foraging in aye-ayes, Daubentonia madagascariensis." Folia Primatol (Basel) 62.1-3 (1994): 125-135. Full Text


Selected Grants

(89-0105) Social Interaction and the Induction of Testicular Activity awarded by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (Principal Investigator). 1988 to 1989