Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Primatology
Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
phone: +49 341 3550 219
hedwig[>>> Please replace the brackets with an AT sign <<<]eva.mpg.de
A species’ vocal behavior is shaped by complex interactions between ecological factors and social behavior. Current socioecological models predict that environmental characteristics define primate sociality, which in turn has been hypothesized to drive the evolution of communicative behavior. However, a general theory that explains patterns of vocal communication in a socioecological framework is still lacking.
For my dissertation I explore the socioecological driving forces on the evolution of vocal communication. I therefore follow a comparative approach using the Gorilla genus as a model, which is highly suitable as the different gorilla species live in a diversity of habitats differing in food availability.
In particular, I investigate different aspects of vocal communication of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, and western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) of Dzanga- Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic in relation to patterns of social behaviour, group cohesiveness and feeding behaviour.
This work is funded by:
Moreover, I strongly believe that any research on endangered animals, such as the gorilla, should be complemented by a commitment to the conservation of the species and its habitat. I particularly think that the success of any conservation activity essentially lies in the involvement of the local population.
In collaboration with the Dzanga- Sangha Project and WWF Germany I run a non- profit conservation initiative to maintain a medical care system of the Aka Pygmies of the Dzanga- Sangha Nature Reserve in Central African Republic, through marketing traditional Ba‘Aka jewelry in Europe. By doing so we aim to improve the health of the people and thereby prevent disease transmission to wildlife, particularly great apes, we provide an alternative income to illegal activities in the reserve, support the survival of local traditions and advertise the Dzanga- Sangha Reserve as an ecotourism destination.