03.12.2016 - 01:22
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Department of Primatology

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 299

Catherine Crockford

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Primatology
Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

e-mail: crockfor@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Together with my research group, I investigate questions related to the evolution of cooperative and competitive social relationships, social cognition and communication. Using a comparative approach to address our questions, we use observations, non-invasive multi-hormone sampling and field experiments in chimpanzees and other wild primates, including bonobos, baboons and sooty mangabeys. We examine underlying physiological and cognitive mechanisms that may explain links between stress, social bonds and cooperation, between non-kin as well as kin. We also examine developmental influences on social bond building capacity. In social cognition and communication, we conduct acoustic analyses, use playbacks and snake model presentations to examine vocal learning, mental state attribution and knowledge of others’ social relationships. Our over-arching aim in using an evolutionary perspective is to shed light on drivers and mechanisms underpinning cooperative and competitive relationships in humans.

Together with Dr. Roman Wittig, I co-direct the Tai Chimpanzee Project, Tai National Park, Ivory Coast which currently has three habituated chimpanzee groups with a fourth under habituation, as well as one habituated sooty mangabey group. In the past, I have extensively observed both western and eastern chimpanzees and chacma baboons. I have conducted field experiments and collected non-invasive hormone samples from chacma baboons in the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana, in collaboration with Robert Seyfarth and Dorothy Cheney and on chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest, Uganda, with Klaus Zuberbühler, as well as on chimpanzees in the Tai Forest, Ivory Coast. This work has been supported by the European Research Council, Max Planck Gesellschaft, the British Academy, the Leakey Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.


  • Dr. Tobias Deschner for all hormone work
  • Drs, Gottfried Hohmann and Martin Surbeck for chimpanzee - bonobo comparisons
  • Prof. Daniel Haun, Drs. Katie Cronin and Esther Herrmann for experiments with chimpanzees at Chimfunshi (Zambia) and Sweetwater (Kenya) sanctuaries
  • Prof. Klaus Zuberbühler and Dr. Kevin Langergraber for cross-population chimpanzee studies
  • Dr. Fabian Leendertz for zoonoses studies on Tai chimpanzees
  • Dr. Linda Vigilant examining chimpanzee genetic pedigrees and life history
  • Drs. Sven Grawunder and Natalie Uomini on phonetic analyses of chimpanzee vocalisations
  • Prof. Richard McElreath and Dr. Steve Smith examining the impact of stress on chimpanzee life history.

Current Lab Members

Post doctoral Researchers
  • Dr. Cedric Gerard-Buttoz: Variation in cooperation between wild chimpanzees and bonobos
  • Dr. Pawel Fedurek: Explaining heritable variation in social bonding capacities in chimpanzees 
  • Dr. Ruth Sonnweber: The influence of variation in social cognition on social bonding capacities in chimpanzees
  • Dr. Patrick Tkaczynski: The influence of hormonal variation on social bonding capacities in chimpanzees, using a multi-hormonal approach
PhD Students
  • Anna Preis: Physiological costs of aggression and benefits of reconciliation in chimpanzees, Taï National Park, CI.
  • Liran Samuni: Underlying mechanisms of cooperation and in-group out-group dynamics in wild chimpanzees - a behavioral and physiological perspective.
  • Alex Mielke: Assessing social complexity and social cognition in sympatric chimpanzees and mangabays, Taï National Park, CI.
  • Veronika Beeck: Behavioural and physiological differences between orphaned and mother-raised chimpanzees, Tai National Park, CI
  • Sylvain Lemoine: Intergroup spacing and relationships between four neighbouring chimpanzee communities
  • Veerle Hermans: Health and fitness correlates of social bonds in chimpanzees