Dr Alecia Carter, Department of Anthropology, University College London
Dr Guy Cowlishaw, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
Dr Elise Huchard, Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier, France
The evolution of reproductive seasonality in social primates. Despite living in a highly seasonal environment, the Tsaobis baboons breed year-round. My main goal is to understand this apparent mismatch. Using long-term data from the Tsaobis Baboon Project, I explore the environmental and social determinants of non-seasonal breeding, along with their fitness consequences. I also collected behavioural data from juveniles to investigate the effects of the season of birth on maternal care, offspring development and mother-offspring conflict.
Ecology and evolution of sibling rivalry in social primates. Sibling competition has lasting consequences on offspring development, behaviour and fitness. However, most studies have focused on competition between same-aged broodmates or littermates. Less is known on sibling competition in species which produce one offspring at a time, like humans. I will collect behavioural data from juveniles, and use long-term data from the Tsaobis Baboon Project and the Mandrillus Project to investigate the dynamics and consequences of sibling competition in chacma baboons and in mandrills.
The ontogeny of social learning. Social learning is widespread in the animal kingdom, and a critical prerequisite to the formation of culture, a fundamental characteristic of humanity. Yet, culture is rarely found in other social animals. My main objective is to understand the constraints on horizontal (between peers) and vertical (across generations) information transmission using the chacma baboon as a study species. To this end, I will investigate the ontogeny of social learning by collecting behavioural data from juveniles at the Tsaobis Baboon Project and perform in situ cognitive experiments.