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So far, variation in cognitive abilities has been studied mainly with regard to species differences. To this area of research, we contribute comparative data on the socio-cognitive plesiomorphy of basal primates.
We carry out these studies on lemurs held at the DPZ and Affenwald Straussberg, but also on several species in Madagascar.
Additionally, we study the causes and consequences of individual variation in cognitive abilities within primates and carnivores. Therefore, we combine cognitive tests on wild animals with accompanying experiments to determine personality traits, as well as measurements of various fitness indices. Furthermore, we also examine how lemurs coordinate joint activities and how they resolve conflicts.

Current Projects

The lemur baseline: how lemurs compare to anthropoid primates in cognitive abilities
(Klara Kittler)

Kittler K, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (in press) Instrumental problem solving in three lemur species. J Comp Psychol.

The link between cognition and fitness in wild gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus).
(Franziska Hübner)

Hübner F, Fichtel C, Kappeler PM (in press) Linking cognition with fitness in a wild primate: fitness correlates of problemsolving performance and spatial learning ability. Phil Trans R Soc B.

Generalist or specialist? On the link between habitat specialization and cognition in two closely related species of mouse lemurs.
(Johanna Henke-von der Malsburg)

Henke-von der Malsburg  J & Fichtel C (in press) Are generalists more innovative than specialists? A comparison of innovative abilities in two wild sympatric mouse lemur species. Royal Society Open Science.

Cognitive abilities in narrow-striped mongooses (Mungotictis decemlineata).
(Bako Rasolofoniaina)

Social learning in wild lemurs
(Claudia Fichtel)

Schnoell AV, Dittmann M T & Fichtel C (2014) Human-introduced long-term traditions in wild redfronted lemurs. Anim Cogn 17: 45-54.

Schnoell AV, Fichtel C (2012) Wild redfronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons) use social information to learn new foraging techniques. Anim Cogn 15: 505-516.

Intergroup conflicts in Verreaux’s sifakas

Koch F, Signer J, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2016) Intergroup encounters in Verreaux’s sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi): who fights and why? BES 70: 797-808.

Koch F, Signer J, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2016) The role of the residence-effect on the outcome of intergroup encounters in Verreaux’s sifakas. Sci Rep 6: 28457.

Group coordination in lemurs

Pyritz L, Fichtel C, Huchard E, Kappeler PM (2013) Determinants and outcomes of decision-making, group coordination and social interactions during a foraging experiment in a wild primate. PLoS ONE 8: e53144.

Fichtel C, Pyritz L, Kappeler PM (2011) Coordination of group movements in non-human primates. In: Boos M, Kolbe M, Ellwart S, Kappeler PM (eds) Coordination in human and non-human primate groups. Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin, pp 37-56.

Fichtel C, Zucchini W, Hilgartner R (2011) Out of sight but not out of mind. Behavioral coordination in red-tailed sportive lemurs. Int J Primatol 32: 1383-1396.

Pyritz L, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2011) Coordination of group movements in wild red-fronted lemurs: Processes and influence of ecological and reproductive seasonality. Int J Primatol 32: 1325-1347.

Pyritz L, King AJ, Sueur C, Fichtel C (2011) Reaching a consensus: Terminology and concepts used in coordination and decision-making research. Int J Primatol 32: 1268-1278.

Pyritz L, Fichtel C, Kappeler PM (2010) Conceptual and methodological issues in the comparative study of collective group movements. Behavioural Processes 84: 681-684.

Trillmich J, Fichtel C & Kappeler PM (2004) Coordination of group movements in wild Verraux's sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi). Behaviour 141: 1103-1120.