CHEMICAL SIGNALLING IN GREAT APES AND MACAQUES
To understand the evolution of olfactory behaviors, olfactory perception and chemical signalling as a yet neglected part of communication in hominids, I collect behavioral data and perform GC-MS analysis of semiochemicals and volatiles that are produded in the four living great apes species (WKPRC). In a second project using GC-MS analysis, I am testing whether odor is a potential cue for kin recognition in rhesus macaques (PKS).
Since 1992 I am running a project on wild living Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui) on Yakushima Island, Japan. Beside of heterosexual matings, self-masturbation of males frequently can be observed in this population allowing the non-invasive collection of semen samples. My main research question is whether and if yes, how semen quality is related to male reproductive success over the life-time. Furthermore, as human sperm quality has been declining heavily in recent years for yet undefined reasons, I have developed a second main interest in detecting the ecological factors that influence annual alterations in semen quality in this wild living primates.
DEVELOPING NON-INVASIVE METHODS
Already as an undergraduate student, I started to develop and to continuously improve minimal and non-invasive methods to support animal welfare and conservation. My efforts comprise the development of non-invasive semen sampling in non-human primates, minimally-invasive blood sampling using distinct insects (patent 2006; DE102004004066B3) and, since recently, non-invasive odor sampling in great apes.