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Ilaria Pretelli

Doctoral Student

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 3550 327
E-mail: ilaria_pretelli@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Research Interests
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

From my background in Evolutionary Biology, I developed a lively curiosity for ultimate causal questions. In particular, I am interested in the evolution of human traits concerning life history, sociality and behavior more in general.

My PhD project stems from the general theme of the evolution of human childhood and tries to address the problem looking at foraging behavior in human populations. Is the long time humans spend as children useful for their future fitness? When and how do they learn some of the information relevant to their successful development? Which is the relative contribution each individual gives to their own growth? I am looking for the answers to these and other questions by observing children foraging in the island of Pemba, offshore Tanzania.

Curriculum Vitae


03/2018-presentPhD Candidate
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Dept. Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Title: “Development of Children Foraging and Evolution of Human Childhood.” Supervisors: Prof. Richard McElreath, Anne Kandler and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
Project fieldwork in Pemba, Tanzania.
10/2013-03/2016Master degree in Evolutionary Biology
Università degli Studi di Padova Grade: 110/110 cum laude
Thesis title: “The Flight of the Bumblebee: Size related differences in flight performances and adaptation to pesticide induced stress.”
Supervisors: Prof. Maria Berica Rasotto and Prof. Richard J. Gill
Project based at Imperial College London (February - November 2015).
Classical style ecological study with a focus on sociality and on the effects of pesticide exposure.
10/2010-09/2013Bachelor degree in Biology
Università degli Studi di Padova Grade: 110/110 cum laude
Thesis title: “Neoteny and Evolution of Life History in Homo sapiens: molecular and morphological evidences.”
Supervisor: Prof. Telmo Pievani.
Bibliographical research on the evolution of human life history based on data from comparative, molecular and archaeological studies.

Other research activities

09/2017-03/2018Stipend contract
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Dept. Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
04/2016-05/2016Research assistantship
Stazione Idrobiologica Umberto d’Ancona - Unipd Chioggia



Lew-Levy, S., Reckin, R., Kissler, S. M., Pretelli, I., Boyette, A. H., Crittenden, A. N., Hagen, R. V., Haas, R., Kramer, K. L., Koster, J., O’Brien, M. J., Sonoda, K., Surovell, T. A., Stieglitz, J., Tucker, B., Lavi, N., Ellis-Davies, K., & Davis, H. E. (2022). Socioecology shapes child and adolescent time allocation in twelve hunter-gatherer and mixed-subsistence forager societies. Scientific Reports, 12: 8054.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Pretelli, I. (2022). Children foraging and the evolution of human life history. PhD Thesis, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig.
BibTeX   Endnote   

Pretelli, I., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., & McElreath, R. (2022). Rates of ecological knowledge learning in Pemba, Tanzania: Implications for childhood evolution. Evolutionary Human Sciences, 4: e34.
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Pretelli, I., Ringen, E., & Lew-Levy, S. (2022). Foraging complexity and the evolution of childhood. Science Advances, 8(41).
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   


Caro, T., Hamad, H., Rashid, R. S., Kloiber, U., Morgan, V. M., Nokelainen, O., Caro, B., Pretelli, I., Cumberlidge, N., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2021). A case study of the coconut crab Birgus latro on Zanzibar highlights global threats and conservation solutions. Oryx, 55(4), 556-563.
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Broesch, T., Crittenden, A. N., Beheim, B. A., Blackwell, A. D., Bunce, J. A., Colleran, H., Hagel, K., Kline, M., McElreath, R., Nelson, R. G., Pisor, A. C., Prall, S., Pretelli, I., Purzycki, B., Quinn, E. A., Ross, C., Scelza, B., Starkweather, K. E., Stieglitz, J., & Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (2020). Navigating cross-cultural research: Methodological and ethical considerations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287: 20201245.
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Kenna, D., Cooley, H., Pretelli, I., Ramos Rodrigues, A., Gill, S. D., & Gill, R. J. (2019). Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduces flight endurance in bumblebees. Ecology and Evolution, 9(10), 5637-5650.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote