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Taï Chimpanzee Project (TCP)
Director: Roman Wittig
Co-Director: Catherine Crockford
Head of Veterinary Unit: Fabian Leednertz
Long-term data manager: Liran Samuni
Project Administration: Christina Kompo
Taï chimpanzees (P. t.verus) have been the subjects of behavioral research for over fourty years (founded in 1979 by Christophe and Hedwige Boesch). At present the project is following four habituated neighbouring communities totaling some 150 individuals. Each group is followed by a team of two Ivorian field assistants, international research assistants, PhD students and researchers on a daily basis. Local and international research staff has to comply to a strict hygienic protocol to prevent zoonotic disease transmission, which was developed in close collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute (Fabian Leendertz, Project Group Zoonoses). As part of the hygienic protocol staff go through three days of quarantine in the North camp before moving to the research camps. Having a permanent vet on site and using a field laboratory we are able to monitor the health status of staff and wildlife.
Research is conducted out of four research field camps (Barrage, South camp, East camp, North-East camp) from where teams start in the morning to conduct their nest to nest follows of the chimpanzees. Studies of the Taï population have led to insights into the construction and use of tools, cooperative hunting behavior, and many aspects of chimpanzee social life. More recently, comparisons of behavior patterns seen at Taï with those exhibited in other chimpanzee populations all over Africa have led to the recognition of chimpanzee culture, an attribute previously restricted to humans.
Researchers of TCP in the Taï National Park work closely with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the Ivorian national park authorities (OIPR - Office Ivorien des Parcs et Réserves) to protect the chimpanzees' future. The base of TCP in Ivory Coast is the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d'Ivoire in Abidjan, a research institution and TCP's close partner.
At present research conducted at TCP is using several different methodological approaches, principally behavioural observations, bio-banking of feces and urine, hormonal analysis from non-invasive sampling of urine and faeces, genetic analysis from non-invasive sampling of faeces and hair, cognition field experiments, video- and vocalisation-recording, remote video and audiorecording and monitoring.
Since 2012, we are also observing a group of mangabeys, which has an overlapping territory with the North group's home range. Comparing behaviour, physiology and cognition of mangabeys and chimpanzees under the same ecological condition will allow us to understand the differences between monkeys and apes.
Research at Taï currently focuses on:
- Communication and evolution of language
- Cultural differences between neighboring communities
- Demographic changes (long-term)
- Intercommunity interactions
- Parasite and disease effects
- Physical and social cognition
- Ontogenetic development
- Social bonds and cooperation
- Social interactions and stress
- Survey techniques and bio-monitoring
Standing collaborations with TCP (2017)
Within MPI EVA
Department of Primatology
- Dr. Tobias Deschner: PI on Behavioural Endocrinology
- Dr. Gottfried Hohmann: Joint project on Pan-Pan comparison: bonobo - chimpanzee
- Dr. Hjalmar Kühl: PI on Pan-African program
- Dr. Linda Vigilant:Kin relationships of Tai chimpanzees
Department of Behaviour, Ecology and Culture
- Dr. Richard McElreath: Comparison of Life History between Humans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos and Evolution of Brain Connectivity
Department of Human Evolution
- Dr. Philipp Gunz:Evolution of Brain Connectivity
- Dr. Ellen Schulz-Kornas: Biomechanical stress on chimpanzee teeth
Outside from MPI EVA
- Angela Friederici, MPI for Cognition and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, GER. Joint project on Evolution of Brain Connectivity
- Catherine Hobaiter, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, UK. Joint project on Chimpanzee communication.
- Peter Kappeler, University of Göttingen & German Primate Center, Göttingen, GER. Joint project on Sociality and Health
- Viktoria M. Oelze, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, USA. Joint project on Isotope studies.
- Julia Ostner, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, GER. Joint project on Sociality and Health
- Oliver Schülke, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, GER. Joint project on Sociality and Health
- Steven Smith, Vetmed University, Vienna, Austria. Joint project on Telomers
- Martin Surbeck, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. Joint project on Bonobo - Chimpanzee Comparison
- Nikolaus Weisskopf, MPI for Cognition and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, GER. Joint project on Evolution of Brain Connectivity
- Michael Wilson, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA. Joint project on Lethal aggression in chimpanzees.
- Klaus Zuberbühler, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Joint project on Social complexity and cognition in chimpanzee and mangabeys.
- Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifique (CSRS), Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
- LANADA, Labo Veterinaire Central, Bingerville, Cote d'Ivoire
- Office Ivorien des Parces et Reserves (OIPR), Cote d’Ivoire
- Robert Koch Institut, Berlin, Germany
- Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), West African Office, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
Want to work with us?
Check jobs available or inquire with Roman Wittig.
For further information contact:
Dr. Roman M. Wittig
Director of the Taï Chimpanzee Project
phone: +49 341 3550204
email: taichimpproject@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de