Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology & University of Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Anja Widdig
e-mail: anja_widdig@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de
phone.: ++49 (0)341 9736 707
Position: PhD student
Jr. Research Group of Primate Kin Selection
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Primatology
Deutscher Platz 6
University of Leipzig Faculty of Life Science
Institute of Biology
Behavioral Ecology Research Group
Recently, research on olfaction in primates gains increasing attention after it was mainly unattended for a long period of time. This was due to the assumption that primates are microsmatic and do not use their olfactory sense primarily. However, the few existing studies could show that several primate species are able to detect odors and use their sense of smell. Olfaction, as well as the visual and the auditory sense, are a type of communication which can be used in several contexts. I am mainly interested in females communicating their menstrual cycle state to male conspecifics. During my PhD project, I investigate two various primate species. (1) Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) which additionally show a visual signal which is a good proxy of their menstrual cycle in terms of genital swellings and (2) marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) which have no visual signals to advertise their cycle state. A signal of the (approaching and actual) ovulation could help males to maximize mating with females in their fertile period. To examine this question best, I optimize an odor sampling method using adsorbent tubes which is new for this biological research field.
My study is conducted in collaboration with the primate house of the Veterinary Faculty, University of Leipzig, Germany (Prof. Almuth Einspanier).