Japanese macaques, aka snow-monkeys, are native to Japan, and live in a wide range of habitats; from the sub-tropical south to the snowy Northern Alps of Japan. They are particularly well know for their potato-washing skills, which was the first report on animal culture. Japanese macaques live in large multi-male multi-female groups with a steep linear dominance hierarchy. They are considered one of the most despotic macaque species.
Since 2016 I am the secretary general of the Austrian Research Center for Primatology. At the 'Affenberg' we study a semi-free ranging group of 150 Japanese Macaques. Current projects mainly involve experimental test of multi-player cooperation.
Long-tailed macaques, aka crab-eating macaques, are native to South-East Asia. Like Japanese macaques they live in large multi-male multi-female groups with a steep linear dominance hierarchy. They are considered a relatively despotic macaque species.
During my PhD, I showed that especially dominant long-tailed macaques can be prosocial, that their prosocial choice depend on rank and relationship quality, yet recent work showed that adding a cost is detrimental for their prosocial tendencies even when paired with kin. Current projects with the long-tailed macaques mainly involves work done by Tina Stocker using experimental test of cooperation and investigates the hormonal underpinnings of cooperation.
Rhesus macaques are the most wide-spread primate species apart from humans. They live throughout Central, South and South-East Asia. They also live in large multi-male multi-female groups with a steep linear dominance hierarchy, and like the Japanese Macaques they are considered one of the most despotic macaque species.
During my PhD, I showed that independent of their despotic life-style, long-term social bonds are particularly important for them and that these influence their mating choices. Current projects focus on their dominance hierarchy and how they cope with stress.
Common marmosets, are native to Brazil, and thus belong to the New World primates. They live in small family groups (~ 7 ind.) that contain breeding pair, current offspring, and previous offspring and/or unrelated individuals. The latter two help the breeding pair with raising the current offspring and therefore, Common marmosets are considered cooperative breeders. Interestingly, next to humans there are only a few primate species that portray such a social system.
Currently, I study the cooperative and prosocial tendencies of marmosets. Additionally, in collaboration with Vedrana Šlipogor and Sonja Koski we study personality and emotional contagion in captive- and wild populations of marmosets.
Much of the work I do has the ultimate goal of illuminating the evolutionary history of human social cognition. Therefor, I employ and advocate the comparative approach, comparing not only primates, but also the much more distantly related birds. However, to allow fair comparisons I also aim at (re-)testing humans with regard to their social cognition in paradigms as comparable as possible to those I use in animals.
Currently, together with Lisa Horn I'm testing human children in a resource allocation prosociality experiment. With Andrew Gallup I am currently investigating proximate mechanisms of (contagious) yawning in adults.