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. Our goals are 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 baboons in the Okavango Delta, Botswana; bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo (graduate student Isaac Schamberg, working jointly with Gotfried Hohmann at MPI Leipzig); geladas in Ethiopia (graduate student Noah Snyder-Mackler, working jointly with Thore Bergman and Jacinta Beehner at the University of Michigan); and hyenas in Kenya (graduate student Andy Gersick, working jointly with Kay Holekamp at Michigan State University).
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.