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Research Groups

Bonobos are separated from other species of African Great Apes by the river Congo and evidence suggests that the speciation of Pan is the result of the geographic separation. More so than other apes, their social system is characterized by social tolerance, nepotism, and female cooperation. Our central aim is to understand the selective forces that have shaped the evolution of their social system. Such information is crucial for assessing how hominoids differ from other primates, and what separates them from humans. [more]

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives and are the key to many secrets in our research of the human origins. To understand chimpanzees' behaviour, cognition and ecology will provide us with insight to our own evolution. Therefore wild populations of chimpanzees are at the core of our research [more].

The behavioral endocrinology group aims to understand how ecological and social parameters shape the diverse endocrinological patterns in great ape species and humans. While we are mainly interested in the investigation of great ape populations in their natural habitat, which necessitates the collection and measurement of non-invasively collected samples, we make use of the opportunities to collect samples in zoos and sanctuaries to develop and validate new methods. [more]

Gorillas are found in ten Central African countries, occupying a broad diversity of habitats ranging from coastal lowland forests to the high altitude, afromontane rainforests. They are an interesting species to study, both in terms of understanding how they have adapted to such a variety of habitats and by providing a excellent opportunity to test many hypotheses of primate behavioral ecology that assume variation in ecology will lead to variation in behavior and demography. A major goal of current research on gorillas is to understand the causes and consequences of variability in ecology, behavior, life histories, and genetics in differing environments.

Our research focuses on the large scale patterns we find in ape populations and their underlying formation processes.  This work includes African and Asian apes and their entire geographic ranges. Topics of research are: models on spatio-temporal distribution, population assessments and monitoring, evidence-based conservation, epidemiology, population ecology. [more]

Our group generates and uses genetic data to address diverse questions focusing on variation among individuals, social groups, or populations. We primarily study wild primate populations and so have a strong reliance on use of noninvasively-collected sample materials. [more]

Philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists and others have been addressing the question of “What makes us humans?” for centuries. However, we have always been limited in our ability to answer that question by the fact that in most comparative studies either humans and/or chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, have been placed in speciesunnatural conditions or have been tested in species untypical situations. Thereby, either species were facing a systematic disadvantage that has hampered our ability to understand “What makes us humans?” [more]