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Behavioural Ecology & Cognition Research


The vested interest in behaviour and cognition of chimpanzees is based on chimpanzees’ similarity to humans. Chimpanzees, and their sister species the bonobo (Pan paniscus), are our closest living relatives. Our evolutionary paths have diverted only about 7-8 million years ago. The evolutionary closeness makes chimpanzees an ideal model species to investigate behavioural and cognitive adaptations of humans, since they allow us a glimpse into the past of our own species.

The Taï Chimpanzees show a wide range of behaviours that appear to be very similar to that of humans. They use multiple tools to extract food, they cooperate during hunting of monkey prey and border patrols, they reconcile conflicts, they adopt orphans and they developed cultures. Although these behaviours are not unique features of Taï Chimpanzees, but can be found also in other chimpanzee populations, observations at TCP were either leading to the discovery or significantly contributed to our understanding of these behaviours. Much of the research on the Taï Chimpanzees has unravelled discoveries related to human evolution and animal cognition.

Here we use the possibilities that we can follow and observe four neighbouring communities of chimpanzees. Behavioural varaibility between neighbouring chimpanzee communities has likely no genetic nor environmnetal cause. Intergroup encounters can be observed from either side, allowing for the first time a possibility to observe behaviours of rival groups simultaniously when they meet.


Selected Publications

Samuni, L., Crockford, C. & Wittig, R. M. (2021).

Group-level cooperation in chimpanzees is shaped by strong social ties.

Nature Communications,12: 539.

Lemoine, S., Preis, A., Samuni, L., Boesch, C., Crockford, C. & Wittig, R. M. (2020).

Between-group competition impacts reproductive success in wild chimpanzees.

Current Biology,30(2), 312-318.

Mielke, A., Preis, A., Samuni, L., Gogarten, J. F., Wittig, R. M., & Crockford, C. (2018).

Flexible decision-making in grooming partner choice in sooty mangabeys and chimpanzees. Royal Society Open Science,5(7): 172143.

Samuni, L., Preis, A., Mundry, R., Deschner, T., Crockford, C. & Wittig, R. M. (2017). Oxytocin reactivity during intergroup conflict in wild chimpanzees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,114(2), 268-273.

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