The research interest centers of the Cognitive Ethology Lab centers on the evolution of communication, cognition, and social behavior. We study the selective pressures and evolutionary constraints that operate on social behavior, and investigate the cognitive abilities and decision-making processes of Old World monkeys. Because the phylogenetic relatedness is an important factor shaping communication and social behavior, we are interested in clarifying phylogenetic relationship patterns.
A focus of our activities in the last years was to establish the field site Simenti in Senegal where we study wild Guinea baboons. We are collecting long-term data on ~180 individually identified subjects. With this first study on individually identified subjects in their natural habitat, we are contributing to the understanding of the factors that shape the diversity of social systems in the genus Papio. Furthermore, we study the social behavior and cognition of Barbary macaques at the outdoor enclosure "La Forêt des Singes" at Rocamadour and long-tailed macaques at the German Primate Center.
Our research group is based at the German Primate Center in Goettingen, Germany. Julia Fischer, the head of the group holds a joint appointment as professor at the Georg-August-University.
Monkey Talk - what studies of nonhuman primate vocal communication reveal about the evolution of speech