20.03.2018 - 08:48
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Department of Primatology

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 299

Lauren C White

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

Phone: +49 341 3550 243
E-mail: lauren_white@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Research Interests

My broad research interests are in conservation and evolutionary genetics of wild populations. My PhD thesis, completed in 2017 at the University of Adelaide, focused on using DNA datasets to assess changes in genetic diversity through time and resolve the evolutionary, taxonomic and demographic histories of a diverse range Australian mammal fauna to support conservation planning. I am currently a post-doctoral researcher in Dr Linda Vigilant’s Molecular Genetics lab group in the Department of Primatology.

Current Project

Preferential interactions with kin are a common feature of mammalian societies. However, the combination of pair-bonding, bilateral kin-recognition and extensive cooperation among social units linked by flexible dispersal patterns is unique to humans, and understanding how such characteristics evolved remains a key challenge in evolutionary anthropology. Comparative data from our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos (genus Pan), can provide insights into evolutionary factors acting on kinship structures.

Previous studies of kinship in chimpanzees via microsatellite genotyping show that males within a community bias positive interactions towards maternal kin. On average males are more related within than across communities, which are linked by female dispersal. However, current data lack the resolution to reconstruct wide genealogical networks, particularly across communities.

I am applying high-throughput sequencing to non-invasively collected fecal samples from across an entire chimpanzee population in Kibale National Park, Uganda to produce an exome-wide SNP dataset. This dataset will be used to determine kinship structures within the population to a resolution that has, as-yet, been unattainable.

In combination with behavioral information from habituated Kibale chimpanzee communities, these results will ultimately be contrasted with information from small-scale human populations to increase our understanding of how kinship structures evolve.