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photo from Erin WesslingErin Wessling

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

phone: +49 341 3550 290
e-mail: erin_wessling[>>> Please replace the brackets with an AT sign <<<]


Research perspective

I am a primatologist and evolutionary anthropologist interested in understanding ways in which great ape behavior and distribution is shaped by interactions with their environment. I am especially interested in how great apes compensate behaviorally, energetically, and physiologically against various ecological and social constraints. I find especially interesting how these tradeoffs affect spatial movement and distribution patterns, as well as how the investigation of related research questions can be applied to active conservation of chimpanzees and other wildlife. In general, the questions that interest me most are integrative in nature and are an amalgamation of conservation, evolution, socioecology, and behavioral ecological science.


Current research

My PhD research focuses on the northwestern reaches of the Pan troglodytes verus subspecies’ range as it relates to ecological, physiological, and energetic stresses. My specific aims are to understand the nature of this range margin by identifying patterns and physiological responses to environmental stressors of chimpanzees who inhabit the margins of the range using endocrinological and stable isotope data. My project will be centered around the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project in Fongoli, Senegal, and will be compared to similar data collected at Several additional sites within Senegal as well as data from chimpanzees of the Taï Chimpanzee Project in Tai, Côte d’Ivoire.
This project would not be possible without the help and collaboration of many individuals. Drs. Hjalmar Kühl and Christophe Boesch have provided academic and financial support from the beginning of the project. Dr. Tobias Deschner of the MPI Endocrinology Lab has been invaluable as a collaborator regarding endocrinological data, and Drs. Viktoria Oelze and Michael Richards are exceptional collaborators regarding stable isotope data. Dr. Jill D. Pruetz, Director of the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project is likewise imperative in welcoming me to her field site for the duration of this project.

Funding for this project has been provided by the Max Planck Society.