Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
E-Mail: kathrin_kopp@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de
Tel.: +49 (0) 341-3550-214
My main research interests lie in comparative studies on social abilities and interactions in all great ape species, including humans, with a special focus on prosocial behaviours, their underlying processes and motivations as well as influencing external factors.
Following the comparative approach, a central question is: Which of the abilities and behaviours that are present in extant hominids reflect a common evolutionary heritage, and which are species-specific? However, no ape is like the other – this does not only apply to humans. On the contrary, great apes demonstrate a considerable inter-individual variety in their skills, preferences and behaviours – within a species and even within a population or group. A further question I am very interested in is therefore: Which social and non-social factors shape the development of specific cognitive, emotional and behavioural characteristics of an individual? Moreover, as a behavioural scientist studying great apes in zoos and sanctuaries, it is also my interest to use the knowledge we gain from our research to identify factors that might promote great apes' well-being, in order to help improving the living conditions of great apes in human care.
In my current position as a post-doctoral fellow within the Evolution of Brain Connectivity Project and together with a team consisting of scientists and research assistants, I investigate social behaviours, communication and tool use in chimpanzees and bonobos in numerous European zoos and African sanctuaries. For this, we combine natural observations with a set of behavioural and cognitive tests. Our aims are (1) to assess the inter-individual variation in particular social behaviours, social connectedness, vocal and gestural communication and tool use, and (2) to link this variation to socio-ecological factors determining individual life conditions.