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Research program and long-term data collection

Baboons (Papio spp.) constitute an important model in the study of human and primate socioecological evolution because they are confronted with similar evolutionary challenges as early humans and show considerable variation in many aspects of their social behavior. Before we started our research, little was known about Guinea baboons (P. papio) compared to other members of this genus. To date, our field site provides the first and only data on individually identified Guinea baboons in the wild. Among other things, our research revealed that Guinea baboons live in a nested multi-level system with female-biased dispersal where males form strong bonds that can last several years. We found intriguing parallels between Guinea baboon societies and the social patterns hypothesized for early human societies.

We study several groups of Guinea baboons that are part of a community of more than 400 individuals with a home range of almost 25 km² around Simenti. Several individuals are fitted with radio or GPS collars. A total of > 500 identified baboons are included in the long-term database started in 2010.

Together with the Senegalese field assistants, we conduct half day follows. We combine behavioural observations, analysis of ranging patterns using GPS data, population genetics, acoustic analyses, and phenological data to examine the relation between ecology, social system and vocal behaviour. Within a comparative framework, our goal is to identify the selective pressures and constraints that shape primate social behaviour. For details about the Guinea baboon research check the section Guinea baboon research. We additionally performed several studies on the vocal behaviour of the local green monkeys.