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Evolution of social systems

Species vary significantly in terms of the association patterns of individuals, on who interacts with whom within a social unit and how, on who mates with whom, and on who cares for dependent offspring and to what extent.
We study this diversity of social systems on three levels: describing component patterns through long-term demographic and behavioral data, examining ultimate and proximate determinants of the individual components, and the consequences of individual social factors for individual health and fitness.
By comparing sympatric species in Madagascar and Peru, we obtain additional insight into the social evolution and complexity of primate (and predator) societies.

Current Projects

Optimal group size in Verreaux’s Sifakas
(Katja Rudolph)

Association patterns in grey mouse lemurs
(Lluis Socias Martinez)

Social relationships and the microbiome of red-fronted lemurs
(Tatiana Murillo Corrales)

Sociality, stress and health in red-fronted lemurs
(Charlotte Defolie)

Mating system and offspring care in black-fronted tamarins
(Darja Slana)

Social organization, mating system and ecology of coppery titi monkeys
(Sofya Dolotovskaya)


Bicca-Marques JC, Heymann EW (2013) Ecology and behaviour of titi monkeys, genus Callicebus. In: Veiga LM, Barnett AA, Ferrari SF, Norconk MA (eds) Evolutionary biology and conservation of titis, sakis and uacaris. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 196-207


Evolution of pair-living in primates
(Peter Kappeler; in cooperation with L. Pozzi, UTSA)

Consequences of adult sex ratios on the social behavior of
(Peter Kappeler)

Evolution of social complexity
(Peter Kappeler)

Finished Projects


Veron G, Dupré D, Lührs M-L, Kappeler PM, Dollar L, Pomerantz J, Goodman SM (2018) Genetic polymorphism and structure of wild and zoo populations of the fosa (Eupleridae, Carnivora), the largest living carnivoran of Madagascar. Mammalian Biology 92: 68-77

Schacht R, Kramer KL, Székely T, Kappeler PM (2017) Adult sex ratios and reproductive strategies: a critical re-examination of sex differences in human and animal societies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 372

Kappeler PM (2017) Sex roles and adult sex ratios: insights from mammalian biology and consequences for primate behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 372

Jennions M, Székely T, Beissinger SR, Kappeler PM (2017) Sex ratios. Current Biology 27: R790-R792

Huchard E, Schliehe-Diecks S, Kappeler PM, Kraus C (2017) The inbreeding strategy of a solitary primate, Microcebus murinus. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 30: 128-140

Charpentier MJE, Harté M, Ngoubangoye B, Herbert A, Kappeler PM (2017) Visual Discrimination of Kin in Mandrills. Ethology 123: 251-259

Schneider TC, Kappeler PM (2016) Gregarious sexual segregation: the unusual social organization of the Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70: 913-926

Koch F, Signer J, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2016) Intergroup encounters in Verreaux’s sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi): who fights and why? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 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. Scientific Reports 6: 28457

Kappeler P, Fichtel C (2016) The evolution of Eulemur social organization. International Journal of Primatology 37: 10-28