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Anna Holzner

Position: PhD student

Research Group "Primate Behavioural Ecology"
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6 
D-04103 Leipzig 


University of Leipzig Faculty of Life Science 
Institute of Biology 
Behavioral Ecology Research Group 
Talstrasse 33 
D-04103 Leipzig 

e-mail: anna_holzner@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Current research
Curriculum vitae

Current research

The extensive conversion of tropical forest into oil palm plantations represents a major threat for many primate species in Southeast Asia. Malaysia is a biodiversity hotspot with high primate diversity but still loses large parts of its natural habitat to new oil palm plantations. Pig-tail macaques (Macaca nemestrina, IUCN: vulnerable), a common yet understudied local primate species, are directly affected by this conversion and widely regarded as pest to oil palm crops. It is yet poorly understood in how far primates can adapt to this landscape matrix. I am interested in the pig-tail macaques’ behavioural adaptability and genetic predisposition to cope with such changes. During my PhD project I want to investigate I) genetic diversity across wild pig-tail macaque populations in Peninsular Malaysia, II) how the conversion of primary tropical forest into oil palm plantations impacts on and modifies the feeding and social behaviour of pig-tail macaques and III) the role of pig-tail macaques for biological pest control at oil palm plantations and their implication for mitigating human-wildlife conflicts.

My study is conducted in collaboration with “Macaca Nemestrina Project” (Dr. Nadine Ruppert, Universiti Sains Malaysia).

Work experience

10/2015-04/2016 Field Research Assistant
in the  project “Cultural behaviour and social network in Balinese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis)” of the University of Lethbridge, Canada; Behavioural data collection in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia
under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Baptiste Leca
06/2014-06/2015 and
Field Assistant
in “Macaca Nemestrina Project";
Habituation and behavioural data collection on wild Southern pig-tail macaques (Macaca nemestrina) in Peninsular Malaysia
under the supervision of Dr. Nadine Ruppert
10/2011-01/2012 Student Assistant at LMU Munich;
Tutor in the course “Genetics I”

Curriculum vitae


since 04/2017 PhD student at the University of Leipzig
Dissertation title: "Implication of oil palm plantations to primate conservation – Genetic diversity and behavioural plasticity in wild Southern pig-tail macaques (Macaca nemestrina)"
Supervisors: Prof. Anja Widdig (University of Leipzig) and Dr. Nadine Ruppert (University Sains Malaysia)
08/2012-10/2014 Master of Science in Biology (with focus on Applied Ethology and Animal Biology) at Linköping University, Sweden
Thesis title: "A breed comparison of behavioural responses of dogs in test situations"
Supervisor: Prof. Per Jensen (Linköping University)
10/2009-08/2012 Bachelor of Science in Biology at Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich
Thesis title: "Fledermausvorkommen im Landkreis Eichstätt"
Supervisor: Dr. Andreas Zahn (LMU Munich)



Ruppert, N., Holzner, A., See, K. W., Gisbrecht, A., Beck, A., & Engelhardt, A. (submitted). Activity budget of Southern pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) in rainforest and oil palm plantations.

In press

Leca, J. B., Brotcorne, F., Gunst, N., Holzner, A., Pelletier, A. N., Nahallage, C. A. D., Huffman, M. A., Rompis, A., & Wandia, I. N. (in press). Two forms of material culture in Balinese long-tailed macaques: The stone handling and token exchange traditions. American Journal of Primatology.


Holzner, A. (2021). The role and behaviour of southern pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) in oil palm plantations. PhD Thesis, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig.
BibTeX   Endnote   

Holzner, A., Balasubramaniam, K. N., Weiß, B. M., Ruppert, N., & Widdig, A. (2021). Oil palm cultivation critically affects sociality in a threatened Malaysian primate. Scientific Reports, 11: 10353.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   

Holzner, A., Rayan, D. M., Moore, J., Tan, C. K. W., Kulik, L., Clart, L., Kühl, H., Ruppert, N., & Widdig, A. (2021). Occupancy of wild southern pig-tailed macaques in intact and degraded forests in Peninsular Malaysia. PeerJ, 9: e12462.
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   


Ruppert, N., Holzner, A., & Widdig, A. (2020). Of pig-tails and palm oil: How rat-eating macaques increase oil palm sustainability. The Science Breaker, 6(2).
Open Access    DOI    BibTeX   Endnote   


Holzner, A., Ruppert, N., Swat, F., Schmidt, M., Weiß, B. M., Villa, G., Mansor, A., Sah, S. A. M., Engelhardt, A., Kühl, H. S., & Widdig, A. (2019). Macaques can contribute to greener practices in oil palm plantations when used as biological pest control. Current Biology, 29(20), R1066-R1067.
DOI    BibTeX   Endnote