Research Q & A
What’s your hometown?
What are you currently working on?
I am observing chimpanzee behavior in the field, focusing on social relationships (both cooperative and competitive) of males living in two neighboring groups. One stark contrast between these two groups is that in one, we have observed frequent instances of killing resulting from within-group fighting. This behavior is puzzling as male chimpanzees rely on each other to compete with neighboring groups as they engage in behavior often compared to human warfare. By eliminating their allies, they are seemingly sabotaging their ability to compete with their rivals. Why are these males killing off their allies? Why do we see this behavior in some groups and not others? I will observe social behaviors in both groups to better understand the social dynamics of male interactions within social groups.
How are you working toward that goal?
I am returning to my field site, Gombe National Park in western Tanzania, to collect data. I will be following male chimpanzees and documenting their behavior.
Why are you focusing your work in that area?
Male chimpanzees live in complicated social landscapes. They rely on group members to compete with outsiders. Simultaneously, these allies are their greatest competition for mating opportunities. This combination of within-group competition and between-group competition makes chimpanzees a great model organism for comparisons with humans who face similar pressures. Using a comparative approach, we can not only understand chimpanzee behavior better, but also empirically test hypotheses that anthropologists use to explain the evolutionary origins of human behavior.
Where are you working on research/field work?
Gombe National Park, Tanzania
What will your next steps/research be?
I will be in the field collecting data for much of 2020, collecting more data to answer my research questions.