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Department of Primatology

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0)341 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (0)341 3550 - 299

Nicole Seiler

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

email: nicole_seiler@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de
phone: +49 341 3550 268

Current Research
Curriculum Vitae

Current Research

I am currently working on my PhD dissertation on the behavioral ecology and conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. My special interest and a major goal in behavioral ecology is to understand the relationship between ecology, sociality and space use behavior. Variation in ecological, social and demographic factors across habitats and populations may lead to intraspecific variation in space use patterns. Gorillas are an interesting species for investigating variation in space use patterns as they are non-territorial and hence have overlapping home ranges and face variation in both food resources and their social environment.

In my dissertation, I am trying to understand the relative importance of ecological and social factors on gorillas’ space use behavior and home range partitioning of neighboring gorilla groups on different scales. Additionally, I am investigating the ecological factors influencing gorillas’ ranging outside the protected area and crop raiding behavior in order to help in guiding management strategies for this critically endangered species.

During the data collection period, I was working with Ugandan research and field assistants. This project provided capacity building as well as income for local people around the park, which is, in my opinion, a crucial component to the conservation efforts of the endangered mountain gorilla.  

The work is funded by:



Curriculum Vitae


Jan 2011-

Ph.D. student, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig.

"Socioecological influences on spatial and temporal patterns of space use in Bwindi Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei)"

supervisor: Dr. Martha Robbins

Oct 2001-Jun 2007 

Diploma Biologist (German equivalent to M.Sc.), degree: very good, University Karlsruhe, Germany.

The movement pattern, the scent marking behaviour and diet of the Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea) in the western Soutpansberg, Southa Africa

Work and Field Experiences

Mar 2012-Aug 2013Principal Investigator, Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Project, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; work on mountain gorilla space use and crop raiding behavior.
Oct 2010-Jan 2011Assistant project and scientific manager, "Landesbund für Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V.’", Germany.
Mar 2010-May 2010 

Coordinator & team leader Virunga Gorilla Census 2010
Transboundary mountain gorilla census in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC.

Jun 2009-Aug 2010

Assistant Project Manager and Research Assistant,Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Project, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; work on social behavior of mountain gorillas.

Jan 2009-Jun 2009Scientific advisor, Elephant Village, Laos; work with Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus).
Jul 2008-Jan 2009 Research Officer, FRONTIER in the Tanzania Savanna Project; carnivore project leader and being a mentor for BTEC-diploma/certificate.
Apr 2008-Jul 2008 Volunteer coordinator, Elephant Nature Park, Thailand;
work with Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus).
Sep 2007-Oct 2007 Intern, Konrad Lorenz Research Station, Austria;
work on pair quality in Common Ravens (Corvus corax).
Oct 2006-Jun 007Principal Investigator  (Diploma thesis), University Karlsruhe, Germany, and Lajuma Research Center, South Africa;  work on brown hyena ecology.
Sep 2006Volunteer, Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen;
work on nursery roosts of the Greater Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis).
Jul 2005-Sep 2005 Intern, Yosu National University, South Korea in collaboration with the University Karlsruhe.



This publication list is currently beeing updated. The process will be finished in a few minutes.
Seiler, N. (2010). SEM-Atlas of hair structures of South-African mammals. Mammalia, 74 (3): 281-290.
Frontier Tanzania (2008). Seiler, N., Alexander, B. E., Steer, M. D., Fanning, E. (Eds.). Savanna Biological Research Methods Manual. Frontier Tanzania Environmental Research Report 121. The Society for Environmental Exploration, UK and the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Scientific Presentations

Seiler N. & Robbins M.M. (2015). Behavioral flexibility by mountain gorillas when ranging on community land and feeding on crops. 6th European Federation for Primatology Meeting, Rome, Italy.

Seiler N. & Robbins M.M. (2015). Research can inform management practices to deter crop raiding by mountain gorillas. 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB), Montpellier, France.

Seiler N. & Robbins M.M. (2015). Ranging on community land and crop-raiding by mountain gorillas. 14th conference of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie, Leipzig, Germany (3rd prize for student presentation).

Seiler N. & Robbins M.M. (2014). Human Gorilla Conflict around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Poster Presentation. 25th Congress of the International Primatological Society, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Seiler, N. (2013). Spatial and temporal patterns of habitat utilization in Bwindi mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei).  Information Sharing Workshop, Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) , Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.

Seiler, N. (2012). Why do gorillas move the way they do? Ranger based monitoring workshop, International Gorilla, Conservation Programme (IGCP), Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Seiler, N. (2012). Socioecological influences on spatial and temporal patterns of habitat utilization in Bwindi mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Gorillas Across Africa Workshop, Musanze, Rwanda.


  • Gorilla ranging outside the protected area and crop raiding in Bwindi’, Bridging Seminar SS 16: Close to research, part of Master of Science: Behavioral Ecology in Primates SS16, University Leipzig, 2016.
  • Tutor for statistical modelling course in R, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, 2016.
  • Introduction to Field Sites. Lecture for the IMPRS (International Max Planck Research School), Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, 2016 and 2015.
  • Mentor for BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) diploma and certificate students, 2008-2009.
  • Tutor and scientific assistant, University Karlsruhe, 2003-2006.

Public Outreach

  • "Plündernde Berggorillas in Bwindi". Presentation at the annual meeting of the Berggorilla und Regenwald Direkthilfe e.V., Hannover, Germany, 2016.
  • Study gauges use of tea as buffer crop to curb mountain gorilla raids, Mongabay Series: Great Apes, 2016. (website of Mongabay)
  • The amazing world of gorillas. Several presentations (German and English) for schools on behalf of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, 2013-2016.
  • "Bwindi Gorilla Forschungsprojekt". Presentation at Zoo Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 2015.
  • "Menschenaffenwaisen." Online Article on great apes orphans for the Mondberge-Projekt, 2014. (website of the Mondberge-Project)
  • "Bitte Abstand halten! Gorillaforscherin in Uganda." Report on my work with gorillas in Spiegel Online, 2013. (article)
  • "Den sanften Riesen auf der Spur: Eine Pfälzerin erforscht Berggorillas in Uganda." TV-report on my work with gorillas in Im Grünen, 2012. (video)