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Hjalmar Kühl

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

phone: +49 341 3550 236
email: kuehl[Please replace the brackets with an AT sign]eva.mpg.de


My research interests focus on various issues in ape conservation, the development of wildlife survey and monitoring techniques, as well as questions in ape population ecology.

Ape conservation research

Ape populations are declining and disappearing throughout their range. Therefore, the easy accessibility of information on population status, threats and conservation opportunities is an important issue in ape conservation. In collaboration with IUCN/SSC/PSG Section on great apes, we implemented the A.P.E.S. database project (http://apes.eva.mpg.de) to compile and meta-analyze great ape survey data. We aim to provide a large scale perspective on the distribution of apes,at the national and regional level.  Several graduate students have been or are working to analyze information for population trends in e.g. Côte d’Ivoire (Paul K. N’Goran, Genevieve Campbell), modeling past and present ape occurrence probability (Jessica Junker), or the effectiveness of ape conservation sites, including edge effects and law enforcement activities (Sandra Tranquilli).
A further goal of this project is to develop a series of GIS layers, ranging from ape population data availability, ape presence and occurrence probability and  population trends to threats and future population trajectories. These GIS layers can then be used in ape conservation planning and management evaluation. For this project we closely collaborate with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) in Cambridge, UK.

Wildlife survey techniques

The development of wildlife survey and monitoring techniques is another topic we are working on intensively. In particular we are interested in the development of electronic methods, based on acoustics or remote camera trapping. The increasing availability of acoustic and video devices makes it now easier to collect large amounts of data for a wide range of species simultaneously. The problem is now how to efficiently process these data and extract the relevant species or individual information needed. Several graduate students are working on this topic with field data collection of audio (Genevieve Campbell, Ammie Kalan) and camera trap data (Luisa Rabanal) as well as automated extraction and classification of long-term recordings on the species and individual level (Oliver Wagner). Furthermore, we are closely collaborating with the Fraunhofer Institutes IDMT and IIS to develop a semi-automated species and individual identification system.

Ape population ecology

Ape populations are not only threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Additional threats include infectious diseases and likely climate change in the near future. Whereas infectious diseases affecting apes are of great interest to many researchers, not much work has been done regarding the potential impact of climate change. Here, we can learn from the reconstruction of the impact of paleoclimatic processes and the analyses of demography, phenology, and behavioral time series data collected in the recent past. We are currently working on several projects related to disease dynamics and the potential impact of climate variation.


If you are interested in any one of the above topics, or have your own ideas you would like to pursue in a stimulating environment, please contact me at kuehl(at)eva.mpg.de