Research

Who are we? How have we come to be the way we are? These enduring questions capture the interest of academics and non-academics alike. In my research, I seek answers to these questions by investigating the behavior of wild chimpanzees. Why chimpanzees? As our closest living relatives, these animals provide the standard for defining human uniqueness and information regarding the changes that must have occurred during the course of our own evolution. This logic serves as the underlying rationale for my field research. Results of this research furnish new insights into the similarities and differences between the behavior of chimpanzees and humans.

My current research involves a long-term field investigation of chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. This project, initiated in the summer of 1995 with David Watts, has been of special interest given the unique nature of the Ngogo chimpanzees. With about 200 members, the Ngogo community is exceptionally large, dwarfing all other groups described in the wild thus far. We have taken advantage of the unusual demographic structure of this community to investigate and document new and intriguing patterns of chimpanzee behavior. Research to date has provided novel findings with respect to the effect of kinship on social behavior, cooperation, hunting, and territoriality.