My research focuses on the social behavior, vocal communication, and cognition of animals in their natural habitats. Methods include observational sampling, tape-recording of vocalizations, playback experiments, and the collection of hormonal and genetic data from fecal samples. My goal is to clarify the differences between nonhuman primate communication and human language, and to explore the adaptive value of primate social relationships as well as the cognitive mechanisms that underlie them. Species and research sites that are currently the focus of research by the members of my research group include bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo (graduate student Isaac Schamberg, working jointly with Gotfried Hohmann at MPI Leipzig), and hyenas in Kenya (graduate student Andy Gersick, working jointly with Kay Holekamp at Michigan State University). Graduate student Emily Bray is conducting a longitudinal study of behavioral and cognitive development among puppies at The Seeing Eye Foundation in New Jersey. She hopes to discover what skills in puppyhood predict success as an adult Seeing Eye dog. This work is jointly supervised by James Serpell at the Penn Vet School.
PSYC 131 Animal Behavior
PSYC 451 Primate Communication
Psychology Graduate Group; Anthropology Graduate Group
Seyfarth, R.M. & Cheney, D.L. (2011) The evolutionary origin of friendship. Annual Review of Psychology 61.
Silk, J.B., Beehner, J.C., Bergman, T., Crockford, C., Engh, A., Moscovice, L., Wittig, R., Seyfarth, R.M. & Cheney, D.L. (2010) Srong and consistent social bonds enhance the longevity of female baboons. Current Biology 20, 1359-1361.
Cheney, D.L. & Seyfarth, R.M. (2007) Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Silk, J.B., Beehner, J.C. Bergman, T. Crockford, C., Engh, A.L., Moscovice, L., Wittig, R.M., Seyfarth, R.M. & Cheney, D.L. (2009) The benefits of social capital: Close social bonds among female baboons enhance offspring survival. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 276, 3099-3104.
Crockford, C., Whttig, R.M., Whitten, P.L., Seyfarth, R.M. & Cheney, D.L. (2008) Social stresors and coping mechanisms in wild female baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus). Hormones and Behavior 53, 254-265.
Wittig, R., Crockford, C., Lehman, J., Whiten, P.L., Seyfarth, R.M. & Cheney, D.L. (2008) Focused grooming networks and stress alleviation in wild female baboons. Hormones and Behavior 54, 170-177.
Bergman, T., Beehner, J., Cheney, D.L. & Seyfarth, R.M. (2003) Hierarchical classification by rank and kinship in baboons. Science 302, 1234-1236.