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Daphne Kerhoas Essens
Daphne Kerhoas Essens

Msc. Daphne Kerhoas Essens
Position: PhD student

Jr. Research Group of Primate Kin Selection
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI EVA)
Department of Primatology
Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0) 341 3550 227
fax: +49 (0) 341 3550 299
e-mail: daphne.kerhoas (at)

Current research

Male/Infants relationship in Sulawesi Black crested macaques
I am interested in Primate social behaviour, and particularly paternal care. According to kin selection (Hamilton 1964), close kin are much more likely to cooperate with each other than distant kin assuming equally cost/benefit ratios. While this is certainly true for maternal kin, less is know for paternal kin (Widdig 2007). The closest paternal kin relationship is the father-offspring relationship as they share about half of their genes. However, few studies on father-offspring relationships have been conducted in multi-male primate groups, as the sire of the infants is often unknown without genetic paternity analysis because of the female’s promiscuous behaviour. To date, only one study on wild baboons was able to show that males are able to distinguish related from unrelated infants as they provide more support to their offspring when involved in agonistic conflicts (Buchan et al. 2003). Sulawesi Black crested macaques (Macaca nigra) live in multi-male multi-female groups, with female philopatry and male dispersal. This species is especially interesting to study father/offspring relationship for several reasons: Firstly, an extremely high infant mortality rate has been observed. Newborns show injuries provoked by large canines, (i.e. therefore likely to be caused by male attacks and infanticide). Secondly, injured newborns have been observed to be protected by specific males until recovery. These males are potential fathers of these newborns. My major goal is therefore to investigate whether males provide paternal care to newborns victim of infanticide attempt.

I will conduct behavioural data collection in the Tangkoko-Batuangus Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi, Indonesia within the Macaca Nigra Project, followed with genetic analysis in collaboration with the German Primate Centre in Goettingen (DPZ).