Prof. Dr. Meg CrofootDirector
IMPRS Board Member
I am a behavioral ecologist and evolutionary anthropologist interested in the evolution of social complexity. In my research, I combine observational methods and field-based experiments with emerging remote sensing technology, to reveal how group-living animals overcome conflicts of interest to achieve shared goals. I am particularly interested in how group-level traits emerge and the ways in which they shape the collective ecology of animals’ societies.
Collective movement • Decision-making • Intergroup competition • Animal culture • Tool use • Social Foraging
Research Group Leaders
Prof. Dr. Barbara FruthGroup Leader
IMPRS Board Member
I am a behavioural ecologist and evolutionary anthropologist, interested in bonobo social behaviour, their ecological constraints, their role within the ecosystem, and their life history. One of my foci is their food repertoire ranging from items ingested for nutritional to those used for medicinal purpose. For this, I follow an interdisciplinary approach integrating herbaria, analyses of plant’s phytochemical and pharmacological properties, and their effect on growth, health and fitness of individual bonobos.
Nutritional Ecology • Conservation • Life history • Community Ecology • Bonobos
Dr. Ariana Strandburg-PeshkinGroup Leader
My group studies the mechanisms and consequences of collective behavior in social animals. We seek to understand how individuals in groups coordinate and communicate with one another to make collective decisions. We combine high-resolution tracking of entire social groups in the wild with boots-on-the-ground field biology, and develop analytical approaches to comprehend the patterns of collective behavior we see in nature.
Communication & Collective Movement • Coatis • Meerkats • Hyenas • Baboons
Dr. Shauhin E. AlaviPostdoc
I am an evolutionary anthropologist, interested in how animals interact with their environments, incorporating a balance of theoretical modeling and intensive field work. I generate high resolution maps of the animals’ resource base, remotely sensing 3D structural and food attributes. I develop remote tracking solutions for monitoring rehabilitated great apes. Additionally, I take a comparative look at spatial cognition and decision making in frugivorous mammals in Panama.
Tag development •
Food For Thought •
New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation
Nadia BalduccioIMPRS Doctoral Student
IMPRS Student Representative
I am an ecologist specialized in tropical ecosystems. I investigated a diverse array of wildlife in South America, Africa and Asia, putting conservation at the forefront of my work. In my PhD, I focus on the effect of human (Homo sapiens) hunting on mammal abundance and movement patterns. In the wider study site of the LuiKotale Bonobo Project, DRC, I assess the mammal community across areas that have been protected for different lengths of time.
Conservation • Monitoring • Mammal Community • Hunting
Dr. Brendan BarrettPostdoc
I am an evolutionary behavioral ecologist and anthropologist, combining theoretical approaches like mathematical modeling and empirical field work to study extragenetic inheritance. In capuchin monkeys, we aim to understand how cultural transmission and evolution, different types of social learning, life history, territorial inheritance, and dispersal shape animal behavior and sociality. A centerpiece of our research is the extractive foraging and the evolution of tool use. To understand drivers of its advent, we cross-compare tool using and non-tool using capuchin populations and e.g. map behavior on resource availability.
Bayesian statistics • Theoretical modeling • Social learning • Foraging innovation & Tool use • Capuchins
Dr. Natalia BorregoPostdoc
I am a postdoctoral behavioral ecologist interested in the selective forces shaping sociality and the proposed evolutionary links between sociality and advanced cognition. I study variability in the social structure and cooperative complexity of African lions across habitats with differing levels of resource richness. I aim to identify conditions under which sociality emerges (and breaks down), as well as conditions favoring cognitive complexity during cooperation.
African lion • Animal cognition
• Social complexity • Ethology • Non-stationarity
Maria Camila CalderonIMPRS Doctoral Student
I study group foraging in the Neotropical greater spear-nosed bat. In collaboration with Teague O'Mara and the Dechmann lab, I map resource distribution and combine it with high-resolution movement and acoustic data of whole groups of bats. I investigate how group foraging decisions can be facilitated by social information and the social interactions of the groups.
Group foraging • High-resolution spatial and acoustic data • Bats
Grace DavisDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist with a keen interest in group decision-making, movement, social networks, and leadership. I apply social foraging and collective decision-making theory on multiple groups of wild black-handed spider monkeys and white-faced capuchins living on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. To gain a greater understanding of how their physiology influences their foraging, leadership and decision-making processes, I combine GPS data and empirical field research with laboratory analyses of hormones.
Social foraging • Leadership • Decision-making • Food For Thought • Capuchins • Spider monkeys
Dr. Vlad DemartsevPostdoc
I am a behavioral ecologist interested in communication in social mammals and its self-regulated coordination. In meerkats, I study the interaction aspect of communication such as the timing of the vocalisation and the social dynamics of vocal exchanges. I also explore breathing as a potential indicator of vocalisation intention and as a possible social cue aiding in regulation of signalling turns.
Communication & Collective Movement • Turn-taking • Meerkats • Hyrax
Dr. Genevieve E. FinertyPostdoc
I am an ecologist, broadly, interested in the interface between spatial and behavioural ecology. As well as a focus on fundamental ecology, I am also interested in how theory can be used to inform conservation and management efforts. These days I mostly work with lions, using long-term datasets on movement and observations to explore how the distribution and richness of resources drive social and spatial structure in populations. I enjoy using quantitative approaches (mostly in R) and working collaboratively.
African lion • Animal movement
• Dispersal • Fission-fusion • Non-stationarity
Dr. Gabriella GallPostdoc
In my current research I try to understand how an individual’s ability to coordinate with others is affected by experiences early in life and whether these differences ultimately affect individual fitness. I address these questions by studying vocal signals used to coordinate group activity in two study systems, the domestic chicken and the common pheasant. This work is in close collaboration with Dr Joah Madden (University of Exeter) and Prof Andrew Radford (University of Bristol).
Communication & Collective Movement
• Group coordination
• Spatial and acoustic data
• Common pheasant
• Domestic chicken
Zoë GoldsboroughIMPRS Doctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist, studying the cultural transmission of behaviors and how this relates to socio-ecological, environmental, and individual differences. By combining observations with non-invasive experiments and statistical modeling, I aim to learn more about animal culture. I study social learning of stone tool use in island living white-faced capuchin monkeys, with the aim to discover which factors drive the development of this behavior, as island populations seem to be more prone to develop tool use.
Tool use • Cultural transmission • Thanatology • Capuchins
Emily GroutIMPRS Doctoral Student
I am a behavioural ecologist, interested in communication in social mammals. Collaring white-nosed coatis living in Panama, I collect audio, high-resolution accelerometer and GPS data to assemble a call repertoire in combination with observed behaviours. I study the resulting effects of vocalisations on group cohesion, dynamics and movement, and the influence of environmental variation on mechanisms used in communication.
Communication & Collective Movement • Food For Thought • Coatis
Dr. Roi HarelPostdoc
I am a behavioral ecologist, primarily aimed at understanding the factors governing decision making, leadership and fine-scale behavior of animals in ecologically and socially relevant contexts. I develop state-of-the-art tracking technologies with the minimal equipment to gain maximal reliable information about behavior. I combine field-based observational and experimental approaches with supervised machine-learning to understand how groups solve conflicts of interests relating to food rewards, staying cohesive as a group and reach consensus decisions concerning where to go.
Leadership • Tag development • Baboons
Odd JacobsonIMPRS Doctoral Student
I am a wildlife ecologist, specialized in field-based behavioral research. I am broadly interested in animal movement and space-use in group-living animals. By combining longitudinal data with spatial analytical tools, I investigate how demographic change influences home range behavior in groups of white-faced capuchins. My current research focuses on how sleep site locations can be used to leverage historical data from before GPS technology was introduced. Using this knowledge, I plan to address how within-group energetic requirements and novel spatial information introduced from immigrants drive space-use patterns over the long-term.
Lomas Barbudal Monkey Project • Capuchins • Immigration • Longitudinal data • Home range
Dr. Urs KalbitzerIMPRS Faculty
I am a behavioral ecologist interested in the evolution of primate social behavior, animal responses to environmental changes, and the enhancement and validation of quantitative methods applied in behavioral ecology. In white-faced capuchin monkeys and red colobus monkeys, two species differing a lot in their ecology, I compare female social relationships and the resulting fitness consequences. I study potential mechanisms underlying this fitness-sociality link by analyzing behavior, physiological parameters, and ecological variability like resource distribution.
Female social connectedness • Quantitative method validation • Capuchins • Colobus monkeys
Melodie KreyerDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist focusing on the impact of health and disease on animals’ behavior. In the context of the rapid environmental changes we observe in recent years, the study of health in wild animals has become of tremendous importance for their conservation. All great ape species are endangered or critically endangered, with the transmission of diseases from human to ape being one of the main threats. I am particularly interested in studying self-medicative behavior in bonobos (Pan paniscus), investigating how they manage to maintain and recover their health in their natural habitat, the evergreen rainforests in Central DRC.
Bonobo • Health • Self-medication • Sickness behavior
Dr. Edward McLesterPostdoc
My research interests are focusing on African primate behavioural ecology. I am particularly interested in cercopithecine monkeys, which are typically under-studied compared to the great apes but can provide equally important insights into primate community ecology. I am currently working on field projects investigating cercopithecine and colobine abundance and behaviour at the LuiKotale and Ekongo (DRC) field sites.
Primate Community • Cercopithecines • Colobines
Pranav MinasandraIMPRS Doctoral Student
I am a computational biologist, interested in collective animal behaviour and movement patterns. My work is focused on social factors that affect synchronisation of wake-sleep cycles in animals. in cooperation with the Jordan lab, I will combine theoretical and experimental approaches to study these factors in cichlid fish. Using a model-fitting approach, I will address questions about the social dimension of synchronisation.
Behavioural state dynamics • Social entrainment • Wake-sleep cycle • Spotted hyenas • Cichlid fish
Claudio Manuel Monteza MorenoIMPRS Doctoral Student
I am a field biologist interested in behavior, ecology and natural history of forest mammals. I study the dynamics of biodiversity and the effects of disconnected habitats caused by anthropogenic change. By assessing the occupancy of community of forest mammals in the Panama Canal area, I aim to identify the degree of landscape connectivity across plantation mosaics that are disconnecting forests.
Landscape Connectivity • Conservation • Coffee • Capuchins
Dr. Tracy MontgomeryPostdoc
I am a behavioral ecologist studying the mechanisms and evolution of sociality via an integrative approach that links physiological mechanisms, behavioral phenotypes, and ecological forces. In collaboration with Zea Walton and the Ankoatsifaka Sifaka Research Project, we investigate the collective ecology of Verreaux's sifaka and their primary predator, the fosa. We employ state-of-the-art tracking technology in conjunction with traditional field observations and long-term data to examine the intersection of social dynamics, spatial decision-making, and predator-prey interactions.
Collective behavior • Social ecology • Fosa • Sifaka
Dr. Hemal NaikPostdoc
I am a computer vision specialist, developing augmented and virtual reality solutions. I aim to bridge the gap between computer science and animal behavior research. I designed techniques for tracking 3D animal movement and posture in the imaging hangar ‘The Barn’. Currently with the excellence cluster, I am designing a software framework to make the 3D tracking facility easily accessible, so that researches from multiple disciplines (biologists, psychologists) can test their ideas efficiently.
Virtual Reality • Collective behavior • Wildlife conservation • Birdwatching
Dr Chase L Núñez, PhDPostdoc
I am a community ecologist specialized in ecological forecasting. I am interested in understanding how the processes that connect individuals respond to environmental variability so we can better predict how large-scale changes in climate, land-use, and resources will change the composition and function of groups and ecosystems. My research program focuses on the social and ecological determinants of decision-making in dispersing male baboons as they leave their natal group, and eventually join a new one.
Decision-making • Ecological forecasting • Baboons
Dr. Akanksha RathorePostdoc
I am broadly interested in the emergent behaviours and functions in animal groups (and societies). For my PhD, I studied emergent group behaviour of blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) in the context of predation and mate-choice. I like to employ Computer Engineering concepts and aerial imaging techniques to answer questions related to Ecology. In future projects, I would like to gain a multi-perspective understanding of group-living animals and their ecosystems by employing interdisciplinary approaches. At the MPIAB, I will be studying mate-choice dynamics in blackbuck leks.
Collective behaviour • Machine learning • Aerial imagery • Neural networks • Field ecology
Dr. Vivek Hari SridharIMPRS Alumni
I am a computational biologist, interested in the interplay between individual and group level properties in animal societies. I investigate decision-making across scales: how individual behaviour translates to decisions at the group level and thus affects collective motion and information propagation. Currently, I analyse trajectories, construct agent-based models, and use Bayesian inference to study coordination of movement via vocal communication in meerkats.
Communication & Collective Movement • Bayesian inference • Neural networks • Information • Meerkats
Kathrine StewartIMPRS Doctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist broadly interested in how group-living animals make decisions. Currently, I study foraging decisions by wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) to better understand how individuals optimize their nutrient intake and energetic costs as food availability varies, and how these individual foraging decisions influence group fission-fusion dynamics. I am also investigating how social and environmental factors influence groups’ decisions about when and how to interact with one another.
Decision-making • Foraging Behavior • Bonobos
Dr. Kate TiedemanPostdoc
I am a landscape ecologist interested in understanding how the past and present landscape impacts animal movement and human wildlife conflict. My current research focuses on quantifying nutritional landscapes in tropical forests using remote sensing. I use machine learning with hyperspectral imaging to model tree species distribution and sugar content of Dipteryx fruits. With this, I aim to understand drivers of animal movement and behavior at the community level.
Remote sensing • Temporal variation in resource distribution • Crop productivity • Human wildlife conflict • Dipteryx
Alexander ViningDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist and data analyst with a focus on the evolution of cognitive maps, the mental representation of space. I am especially interested in how elements of primate ecology, like a fruit-based diet and arboreal habitat, facilitate the evolution of cognitive maps. To answer this, I study the movement of kinkajous, an arboreal mammal that shares an ecological niche with humans’ primate ancestors. I aim to identify whether kinkajous supplement route learning with place learning.
Dr. Zea WaltonPostdoc
I am a carnivore ecologist broadly interested in animal movement and predator-prey interactions. My research aims to investigate how predators influence the collective behavior and social networks of group living prey species. Together with Tracy Montgomery, I integrate the fosa, Madagascar’s largest native predator, into long-term research on Verreaux’s sifaka, to understand the mechanisms of behavioral coordination, patterns of information flow and decision making of the sifaka in relation to their most important predator.
Collective behavior • Social ecology • Predator-prey interactions • Fosa • Sifaka
Affiliated and Guest Scientists
Mattia BessoneDoctoral Student
I am a wildlife biologist interested in wildlife ecology, conservation, and monitoring methods. In my research, I investigate the ecological and anthropogenic drivers affecting the viability of rain-forest species in Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a focus on the bonobo (Pan paniscus). I apply an integrated approach making use of traditional and novel survey and analytical methods to evaluate caveats and potential improvements for the conservation of wild populations.
Bonobo • Monitoring methods • Conservation • Integrated Population Models
Dr. Michelle BrownGuest Scientist
I am a primate behavioral ecologist and study feeding competition among individuals, groups, and species in order to understand the short- and long-term fitness effects of varying social strategies. As the Director of the Ngogo Monkey Project, I lead a team that works with many groups of five monkey species in Kibale National Park in Uganda. My research incorporates behavioral observations, endocrinology, plant reproductive phenology, vertebrate censuses, and playback experiments.
Communication & Feeding competition • Endocrinology • Red-tailed monkeys • Blue monkeys • Grey-cheeked mangabeys • Olive baboons • L'Hoest's monkeys
Robert LessnauAffiliated Scientist
I am a zoologist, focused on primatology and especially interested in the conservation of wildlife. My current field work focuses on safe capture of various species of primates for study and the associated logistics (chemical immobilization, restraint, data collection, safe release and radio telemetry). My underlying goal is to address the welfare and ethical implications surrounding animal capture while developing standards that provide guidelines / protocols that will aid the scientific community on better practices for animal restraint.
Animal welfare • Conservation • Prosimians • Neotropical primates
Lucia TorrezDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist interested in interactions between animal groups, resource competition, and space-use. I combine direct observation and remote sensing data (such as GPS and radio telemetry) to investigate how risk of intergroup interactions and resource distribution influence foraging strategies and home range use in wild white-faced capuchin monkeys living in Panamá.
Intergroup interactions • Resource distribution • Space use • Food for Thought • Capuchins
Linnea Worsøe HavmøllerDoctoral Student
I am an ecologist interested in movement ecology, conservation strategies, and juvenile dispersal of mammals. In the Indonesian dhole or Asiatic wild dog, I study movement ecology and activity patterns with GPS tracking and camera trapping, and I identify potential corridors between protected areas on Java. Additionally, I study their diet to recognise important prey species and detect if and how often livestock is eaten, particularly intending to improve conservation strategies.
Movement ecology • Conservation • Food for Thought • Dholes
Dr. Rasmus Worsøe HavmøllerGuest Scientist
I am a mammologist with a background in genetics, camera trapping and animal tracking, with broad interests in ecology and conservation that use multidisciplinary approaches to answer questions using the latest technological advances. I use high-resolution GPS data to assess competitive interactions in neotropical frugivores in collaboration with Meg Crofoot, while also working on developing a kinetic tracking tag in collaboration with Martin Wikelski’s team. My future research goal is to study dispersal of juvenile mammals.
Food for Thought • Tag development • Animal movement • Juvenile dispersal • Conservation
Science supporting staff
Dr. Alison AshburyScience Writer
I am an evolutionary biologist, interested in the study of movement ecology and collective behavior, especially among primates. I earned a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Zurich, where I studied movement and space-use among Bornean orangutans.
Please contact me if you need help with designing, writing, or editing:
• grant proposals
• other scientific content
Katrin DieterAssistant to the Director
Please contact me for:
• Ordering equipment
• Receiving guests (accommodation etc.)
• Organizing workshops / symposia / events
• Field work (travel permit, organization)
• Contracts for collaboration
• Leave (vacation / sick)
• Help with Translations
• MPI mail address / account / keys
• Working with Master / Bachelor students (thesis / HiWi)
Dr. Angelina Ruiz-LambidesScience Coordinator
I am an evolutionary anthropologist, particularly interested in the reproduction ecology of macaques. Working as an International Science Coordinator, I support research activities at international field sites.
Please contact me for:
• Field equipment
• Import / export of sensitive equipment (drones etc.)
• Travel authorizations
• Conducting animal experiments (remotely / locally), ethical committees
• Documentation / archiving experimental data
• Setting up collaboration agreements (coauthorship, data rights / storage)
Baptiste AverlyDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist broadly interested in the way social animals exchange information in different ecological contexts, and how this in turn affects group-level outcomes. My main goal is to characterize how meerkats use vocal signaling to maintain group-cohesion and achieve coordination during movement. I am using custom-made collars to collect high-resolution movement and acoustic data of whole groups of meerkats at the Kalahari Meerkat Project in South Africa.
Communication & Collective Movement • Spatial and acoustic data • Meerkats
Dr. Mauricio CantorPostdoc
I am a postdoctoral marine ecologist, fascinated by emergent strategies in nature. My primary research contributes to the understanding of how animal social systems emerge from simple rules among interacting individuals. Combining theoretical models with empirical data, I study the cooperative foraging between artisanal fishermen and wild dolphins in southern Brazil toward the common goal of catching mullet fish.
Human-animal cooperation • Biological networks • Dolphins • Whales
Dr. Kiran Dhanjal-AdamsPostdoc
I am an ecological modeller using machine learning to classify calls in meerkats, hyenas and coatis, to understand how communication influences group dynamics over multiple spatial and temporal scales. Using GPS and audio data from collared wild individuals, allows us to analyse how group movement and cohesion is facilitated by vocal communication. Looking at inter-species variation gives us insight into differences in short versus long distance communication and differences between very cohesive versus fission-fusion species.
Communication & Collective Movement • Machine learning • Bird migration • Connectivity • Meerkats
Dr. Mathieu DuteilPostdoc
I am a research engineer, studying communication and collective behavior across scales. Mainly, I employ machine learning to categorize calls of meerkats, hyenas, and coatis. In an international collaboration we aim to recognize patterns in vocalizations to gain a greater understanding of correlations between group structure and communication. Further, I try to differentiate voice timbres to distinguish individuals.
Communication & Collective Movement • Machine learning • Sound processing • Meerkats • Hyenas
Dr. Kosmas HenchPostdoc
I am an evolutionary geneticist, interested in the interaction of social and genetic inheritance within wild populations. By combining approaches from behavioral ecology and population genetics, I aim to understand the process of gene-culture co-evolution. Particularly, I am interested in feedback dynamics between animal behavior and gene flow during divergence and maintenance of population structure. In the interdisciplinary project ‘Food For Thought’, I am investigating dominance patterns in white-faced capuchin monkeys.
Gene-culture co-evolution • Animal movement • Food For Thought • Speciation and divergence • Capuchins
Carter LoftusDoctoral Student
I am a behavioral ecologist interested in how group-living animals navigate a complex social environment and how relationships influence everyday decisions at the individual, the collective and the population level. I study the social impacts on decision-making in wild olive baboons, using GPS, inertial sensors, and video recordings, in conjunction with direct observations. 3D laser scans help me produce a physical reconstruction of sleep sites. I combine these with thermal imagery recordings to unveil agitation at night and to explore the influence of the social environment on sleep in baboon groups.
Sleep site • Decision-making • Food For Thought • Baboons
Sonya PashchevskayaMSc Student
My main interest is social behaviour of bonobos (Pan paniscus): its evolution, structure and functions. I am fascinated by the dynamics of bonobo networks: how their properties change with ecological factors and how individuals’ positions vary in the potential influence on network structure. Using my mathematical background, I apply social network analysis to study global and local patterns of associations and interactions between individuals within a community. For my MSc thesis, I focused on how network characteristics influence disease spread in the bonobos of LuiKotale.
Bonobo • Network analysis • Social behaviour
Dr. Mara ThomasPostdoc
I am a neuroscientist and bioinformatician interested in developing computational methods to understand how and what animals communicate. Currently, I use unsupervised dimensionality reduction and clustering to reveal patterns in meerkat vocalizations. More generally, I am interested in all types of data-driven research that aim to decipher emotions and intentions of animals and how we can use this knowledge to protect them.
Communication & Collective Movement • Machine learning • Meerkats