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Gottfried Hohmann

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

phone: +49 341 3550 208
e-mail: hohmanneva.mpgde

Current Research
Scientific background
Curriculum Vitae

Current Research

My current research interest focuses on several questions about the conditions under which bonobos have evolved and how this development has shaped their social behaviour. What were the causes for the divergent evolution of the two Pan species, the bonobo and the chimpanzee? How different are the two sister species? Have males and females been affected differently by the divergent development and if so, what were the driving forces to induce changes in one but not the other sex? In order to tackle these questions, I am using information from wild bonobos observed at Lomako (1989-1998) and LuiKotale (since 2002). In addition, my current interest focuses on developmental processes in bonobos and chimpanzees. Integrating data on developmental changes in physiology, behavior and morphology is one way to explore the emergence of differences in social behavior that are so prominent in adult individuals.

Scientific background

I studied biology at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, focusing on animal physiology, anthropology and biophysics. I started work on nonhuman primates with experimental studies at the MPI for Psychiatry by exploring the physical configuration of vocal and visual signals used by squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). This work was followed by field studies on the vocal communication of sympatric species of macaques (Macaca silenus, M. radiata) and langurs (Presbythis johnii, P. entellus) in South India. The four species offer an interesting model as they differ in terms of their social systems and in their flexibility to adapt to environmental changes. This work was done in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) and led to my PhD at the LM-University Munich.

After finishing my PhD, I moved from the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry to the Max Planck Research Centre for Human Ethology (1989-95). Here I started work on wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Lomako. This work was initially funded by  the MPI for Human Evolution and later by the MPI for Behavioral Physiology (1996-99). Since 1999, my research is hosted by the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology. Studies at Lomako continued for eight years and produced the first information from fully habituated but unprovisioned bonobos. This included data on kin relationships of natural communities, the relation between kinship and social ties, and the first detailed information on hunting, meat eating and meat sharing by female bonobos highlighting the role of females in a domain that is usually considered to be dominated by males.

In 2002, a new study site was established for hosting long-term field research on bonobos at LuiKotale. This site is used jointly by the bonobo project and by a long-term project on  plant biodiversity directed by Barbara Fruth (http://www.eva.mpg.de/procuv). Initial studies of bonobos at LuiKotale have focused on a complex of related aspects such as feeding behaviour, food processing, nutritional ecology, and forest productivity. Following habituation of the members of one community to close range observations, various behavioural aspects are now being studied by post-docs, PhD and Master students. Meanwhile a second community tolerates the presence of humans which allows expanding research activities of this population.

Ongoing field studies combine behavioural observations with molecular genetics, behavioural physiology, and ecological data. Field work in Congo is complemented by a series of experimental studies on converging topics such as ontogeny, social and environmental stress, nutrition, and energy acquisition.

Curriculum Vitae

1978-1984Studies of biology, anthropology, and biophysics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
1985-1987Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
1987-1989Max-Planck Institute for Psychiatry and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
1989Dissertation at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
1989-1995Deptartment of Human Ethology, Max-Planck-Society, Germany
1996-1998Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology Seewiesen, Germany
since January 1999Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Dept. Primatology), Leipzig, Germany
since 2007representative of the scientific staff of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology


In addition to annual budgets from the Max Planck Society, funding has been obtained from the following organizations:

1989 – 1993multiple grants from the German Science Foundation for creating the infrastructure for long-term field research at Lomako
since 1995multiple grants from the German Science Foundation for studies on the genetic relations of wild bonobos (collaboration with D Tautz, Munich University)
since 1997multiple grants from the German Science Foundation for studies on sexual behaviour and endocrinology in wild and captive bonobos (collaboration with K Hodges and M Heistermann, German Primate Centre, Göttingen)
since 1999multiple grants from the German Science Foundation for studies on the genetic variability of bonobos (collaboration with L Vigilant, MPI for Evolutionary Antropology, Leipzig)
1999Volkswagen Foundation for studies on the pharmacological activity of bonobo food plants (collaboration with K Dibungi, Uni Kinshasa, and D. Paper Uni Regensburg)
2000multiple grants from The Leakey Foundation for a comparative study on feeding ecology in bonobos and chimpanzees
2002German Technical Cooperation for the development of the Salonga National Park as a resource for conservation, science and tourism
since 2005multiple grants from the National Geographic Society for field research in Congo
2008/10multiple grants from Primate Action Fund of Conservation International for organizing anti-poaching campaigns


Long-term research collaborations have been established with:

  • Dept. of Anthropology, University College London
  • Dept. of Anthropology, George Washington University
  • Dept. of Anthropolgy, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Dept. of Comparative Cognition, Université de Neuchâtel
  • Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science, Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging
  • the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (http://www.izw-berlin.de/),
  • the Laboratory for Endocrinological Diagnostics at the Institute for Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics at Leipzig University (http://www.uni-leipzig.de/),
  • the zoos of Apenheul (NL), Berlin (G), Cologne (G), Frankfurt am Main (G), Leipzig (G), Planckendael (B), Straubing (G), and Wuppertal (G).
  • Courant-Research Center Evolution of Social Behavior, Georg August Universität Göttingen
  • Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen
  • Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp


This publication list is currently beeing updated. The process will be finished in a few minutes.


Hohmann G, Gerloff U, Tautz D, Fruth B, 1999. Social bonds and genetic ties: kinship, association and affiliation in a community of bonobos (Pan paniscus). Behaviour 136, 1219-1235.

Gerloff U, Hartung B, Fruth B, Hohmann G, Tautz D, 1999. Intracommunity relationships, dispersal pattern and control of paternity in a wild living community of bonobos (Pan paniscus) determined from DNA analyses of fecal samples, Proc Royal Soc B, 266:1189-1195.

Gagneux P, Wills C, Gerloff U, Tautz D, Morin P, Boesch C, Fruth B, Hohmann G, Ryder O, Woodruff D. 1999. Mitochondrial sequences show diverse evolutionary histories of African hominids. PNAS, 96:5077-5082.


Fruth B, Hohmann G, McGrew WC, 1998. The Pan species. In Dolhinow P, Fuentes A (eds), The Nonhuman Primates, pp 64-71, Mayfield Publ. Comp., Mountain View, London, Toronto.


Fruth B, Hohmann G, 1996. Nest building behavior in the great apes: the great leap forward ? In McGrew WC, Marchant LF, Nishida T (eds), Great Ape Societies, pp 225-240, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.

Hohmann G, Fruth B, 1996. Food sharing and status in unprovisioned bonobos. In Wiessner P, Schiefenhoevel W (eds), Food and the Status Quest, pp 47-67, Berghahn, Providence & Oxford.


Hohmann G, Fruth B, 1995. Loud calls in Great apes: sex differences and social correlates. In Zimmermann E, Newman JD, Jürgens U, Current Topics in Primate Vocal Communication, pp 161-184, Plenum Press, New York & London.

Gerloff U, Schlötterer C, Rassmann K, Rambold I, Hohmann G, Fruth B, Tautz D, 1995. Amplification of hypervariable simple sequence repeats (microsatelites) from excremental DNA of wild living bonobos (Pan paniscus). Molecular Ecol 4:515-518.


Fruth B, Hohmann G, 1994. Comparative analyses of nest-building behavior in bonobos and chimpanzees. In Wrangham RW, McGrew WC, de Waal FB, Heltne PG (eds) Chimpanzee Cultures, pp 109-128, Harvard Univ. Press Cambridge & London.

Hohmann G, Fruth B, 1994. Structure and use of distance calls in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). Int J Primat 15:767-782.

Fruth B, Hohmann G, 1994. Nests: living artefacts of recent apes ? Current Anthropology 35:310-311.


Fruth B, Hohmann G, 1993. Ecological and behavioural aspects of nest building in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). Ethology 94:113-126.

Hohmann G, Fruth B, 1993. Field observations on meat sharing among bonobos (Pan paniscus). Folia primatol 60:225-229.


Hohmann G, 1991. Comparative investigation of vocal communication in four Old World monkeys: analyses of age- and sex-specific patterns of vocal behaviour, Folia primatol 56:133-156.

Hohmann G, Vogl L, 1991. Loud calls of male Nilgiri langurs: age-, individual-, and population-specific differences. Int J Primat 12:503-524.


Hohmann G, 1990. Preliminary investigation of male loud calls of purple-faced leaf monkeys (Presbytis senex). Folia primatol 55:200-206.


Hohmann G, 1989. Vocal communication in wild bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata). Primates 30:325-345.

Hohmann G, 1989. Comparative study of vocal communication in two Asian leaf monkeys, Presbytis johnii and P. entellus. Folia primatol. 52:27-57.

Hohmann G, 1989. New evidence for hybridisation in Presbytis johnii and P. entellus. J Bomb Nat Hist Soc 117:33-37.

Hohmann G, 1989. Group fission in Nilgiri langurs (Presbytis johnii), Int J Primat 10:441-454.


Hohmann G, 1988. A simple case of tool use in wild lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus). Primates 29:565-567.

Hohmann G, 1988. Ananlyses of loud calls provide new evidence for hybridization between two Asian leaf monkeys (Presbytis johnii, P. entellus). Folia primatol 51:209-213.


Hohmann G, Herzog M, 1985. Vocal communication in lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus). Folia primatol 45:148-178.