Department of Primatology
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 299
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are the closest living relative of humans, sharing 98.7% of our DNA. They are found in tropical Africa from Senegal to Tanzania with 4 recognized subspecies: P. t. verus (West Africa), P. t. vellerosus (Nigeria and Cameroon), P. t. troglodytes (Central Africa) and P. t. schweinfurthii (East Africa). Chimpanzees are highly social and live in communities of 10 to 180 individuals. Such communities define the core unit of social and reproductive interaction in chimpanzees.
Male chimpanzees are the philopatric sex and stay in their birth community for their entire life, while females migrate usually to neighbouring communities once they have reached reproductive age. The males of a community defend a territory against incursions from neighbours, with occasional killings of neighbouring males. However, large variations have been observed in all aspects of the social structure, social life, reproductive strategies and more.
The department has worked in Africa for many years with different long-term field projects to understand more precisely the biology and behavior of chimpanzees. In an attempt to improve our understanding of the behavioral and cultural diversity within this species, we have implementing two long-term projects, one in Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire, observing West African chimpanzees (P. t. verus), and another one in Loango National Park, Gabon, observing Central African chimpanzees (P. t. troglodytes). At the same time we collaborate extensively with other long-term projects to uncover the complexity of the interactions between ecology and behaviour: this includes such sites as the Goualougo chimpanzee project (P. t. troglodytes) in the Republic of Congo, the Ngogo chimpanzee project (P. t. schweinfurthii) in Uganda, as well as the chimpanzee project at Budongo Conservation Field Station (P. t. schweinfurthii) in Uganda.