Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
Chimpanzee and bonobos are two closely related species with a broad range of ecological and social similarities but they differ greatly in their level of broad scale coordinated actions (i.e. coordinate actions of several individuals towards a common goal). Whereas chimpanzees regularly engage in broad scale coordinated actions (e.g. border patrols or hunting) and derive direct benefits from it, bonobos have not been reported to engage in such actions. Using those species differences my current post-doctoral project investigates the link between group level cooperation, reciprocity in the exchange of services at the dyadic level and the emotional and cognitive mechanisms triggering the expression of cooperative acts. For this project I combine endocrinological and behavioural data on wild bonobos and Western chimpanzees with field experimentations. The first part of the project focuses on assessing whether social and genetic factors affect short and long-term reciprocity differently in both species. The second part uses a snake model presentation paradigm to pinpoint the mechanisms triggering the exchange of information between individuals around a danger.
This project is conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Martin Surbeck, Dr. Catherine Crockford, Dr. Roman Wittig, Dr. Gottfried Hohmann, and Dr. Christophe Boesch which allows for combining data from several field sites collected over extended time periods. Therefore, this project will not only provide a deep understanding of the relationship between social structure, level of broad scale cooperation and service exchange mechanisms in bonobos and chimpanzees but it will also be a valuable contribution to our understanding of the evolutionary origin of human cooperation diversity.