The bonobo social system is characterized by high degree of female dominance, strong bonds between mothers and their mature sons, female cooperation and strong social tolerance within and between communities. Our central aim is to understand the selective forces that have shaped the evolution of this unique social system. Our work aims at a comparative approach whereby we consider within-species variation in bonobos and between species differences to chimpanzees. By doing so, we can infer more about processes and selective pressures in our own evolutionary past.
In our studies we combine systematic behavioral observation with botanical, physiological and molecular data to explore causes and consequences of social behavior. Building on research conducted at LuiKotale fieldsite from 2007 to present and in order to better understand within-species variation in bonobos we established in early 2016 a new bonobo research site at Kokolopori in collaboration with the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) and Vie Sauvage (VS).