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Hands-on science to sustain Madagascar's resources and people

Conflict and Cooperation in Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Humans

Wednesday March 8th @ 3pm
ICTE Conference Room
Social and Behavioral Science, Room N244


Compared to other primates, humans engage in extraordinary levels of both conflict and cooperation. Many questions remain regarding how and why these capacities evolved in our ancestors. Long-term field studies of our two closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, provide valuable data for testing relevant hypotheses. Despite popular accounts depicting these apes as polar opposites— chimpanzees as aggressive killers, and bonobos as peaceful apes that make love, not war—systematic comparative study provides a more nuanced view. This talk will provide an overview of our work to understand the evolution of conflict and cooperation, with a focus on (1) group territorial behavior in chimpanzees; (2) comparisons of reproductive skew and aggression between chimpanzees and bonobos; and (3) a mathematical model of the origins of food sharing in early hominins, a key component underlying increased cooperation among humans. 



About the Presenter

 Michael Wilson is a Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. He studied Biology and English Literature at the University of Chicago, then habituated olive baboons at Mpala, Kenya (1992-1993) and managed data for the Amboseli Baboon Project (1993-1994). He earned his PhD in Anthropology at Harvard University (2001), studying territorial behavior and vocal communication of chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda. He began studying intercommunity relations of chimpanzees at Gombe National Park, Tanzania, as a postdoc at the University of Minnesota (2001-2003), becoming Associate Director of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Center for Primate Studies (2003-2009). He served as Director of Field Research for the Jane Goodall Institute’s Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania (2004-2006) before returning to Minnesota, where he joined the faculty in 2007. He supervises graduate students studying species including chimpanzees and olive baboons (Gombe), bonobos (Kokolopori, Democratic Republic of Congo), gelada monkeys (Guassa, Ethiopia), and virtual primates (Minnesota Supercomputing Institute). He remains deeply involved in research at Gombe as one of the Principal Investigators of the Gombe Research Consortium.


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