EFP-GfP 2022 symposia (abstracts are attached below):

Symposium 1: The hows and whys of social relationships: applying Tinbergen’s four questions to the study of primate social behavior.

Organizers: Delphine De Moor (University of Exeter), Erin Siracusa (University of Exeter) & Camille Testard (University of Pennsylvania)

                         

Symposium 2: Great apes’ production and perception of emotional expressions.

 

Organizers: Yena Kim (Leiden University), Raphaela Heesen (Durham University), Mariska Kret (Leiden University) & Zanna Clay (Durham University)

                         

Symposium 3: Is it time to phase out lab research on non-human primates? 

 

Organizers: Simone Pollo (Sapienza University of Rome) & Augusto Vitale (Istituto Superiore di Sanità)

                          

Symposium 4: Meaning, context and function: Studies on flexibility versus specificity in primate communication.

 

Organizers: Marlen Fröhlich (University of Zurich; University of Tübingen) & Kirsty E. Graham (University of St Andrews)

                          

Symposium 5: Are we smart enough to know what great apes need – studies in great ape welfare.

 

Organizers: Jeroen Stevens (Odisee Hogeschool), Daan Lameris (University of Antwerp) & Johanna Neufuss (University of Birmingham)

                         

 

Symposium 6: Exchanging methods in the ethological study of human and non-human primates.

Organizer: Virginia Pallante (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement)

                         

 

Symposium 7: Perspectives on non-human primates’ economic behaviour(s).

Organizers: Elsa Addessi (CNR, Rome), Francesca De Petrillo (Newcastle University) & Valerie Dufour (University of Tours)

                         

 

Symposium 8: Advancing the modelling of food resource distributions for the investigation of behavior.

 

Organizer: Urs Kalbitzer (University of Konstanz & Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behavior)

                         

Symposium 9: Getting into the mind of the forager - Studying cognition in humans and other primates under natural foraging conditions.

Organizers: Karline Janmaat (University of Amsterdam) & Miguel de Guinea (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Symposium 1: The hows and whys of social relationships: applying Tinbergen’s four questions to the study of primate social behavior. 


Organizers: Delphine De Moor (University of Exeter), Erin Siracusa (University of Exeter) & Camille Testard (University of Pennsylvania)

 

Symposium Proposal: 
It is now widely recognized that social interactions are an essential part of animal societies. In group-living species, the same individuals often interact repeatedly, giving rise to differentiated social relationships. By forming ties with their group members, animals can better cope with challenges like finding food, avoiding predators, and caring for offspring. As such, social relationships are key to survival, reproductive success, and health for many social mammals. While the value of social relationships is now widely appreciated, open questions remain regarding the mechanisms linking sociality to fitness as well as the evolutionary roots and biological underpinnings of social relationships. New insights driven by the accumulation of long-term data on wild populations and methodological innovations have opened new avenues of research in ecology, neuroscience, genetics and phylogeny. This diversity of approaches has been, and continues to be, one of the strengths of the field of Primatology. However, uniting recent advances in these domains will be essential to piece together the evolutionary puzzle of social relationships. We therefore propose to bring together researchers at the forefront of primate social behaviour, to discuss what our closest living relatives have taught us about the mechanistic underpinnings and evolutionary origins of forming social relationships.
We propose that Tinbergen’s four questions provide an excellent framework for integrating recent developments in the field of social behaviour. Our speakers will discuss 1) the adaptive function of being socially connected (‘function’), 2) the evolutionary roots and ecological drivers of social relationships (‘evolution’), 3) the neurological and physiological underpinnings of social behavior (‘causation’), and 4) how social behaviour develops throughout an animal’s lifetime (‘ontogeny’). The symposium is meant to highlight recent findings, reveal overlap between research fields that will help foster interdisciplinary approaches, and outline future research avenues to better understand why and how social relationships evolved.

                      

 

Symposium 2: Great apes’ production and perception of emotional expressions. 
 

Organizers: Yena Kim (Leiden University), Raphaela Heesen (Durham University), Mariska Kret (Leiden University) & Zanna Clay (Durham University)

 

Symposium Proposal: 
In any social species, emotion communication plays a crucial role in the ability of individuals to navigate their social worlds. The expression of emotions (whether automatic or voluntary) provides insights into underlying affective states, permitting receivers to rapidly and accurately adjust behaviors when perceiving such expressions, for instance during collaborative settings or during aggression. Compared with other animals, humans have evolved exceptionally communicative faces and bodies which enhance the salience of the emotional signals, and at the same time, highly sensitive perceptual systems to detect subtle emotional cues. Nevertheless, how this emotion communication system evolved in the hominin lineage and in particular which selective pressures have acted on these behavioral and perceptual systems remains poorly understood. In this symposium, we address this by exploring and comparing the production and perception of emotional expressions across our closest living relatives, the great apes. Given the highly varied social structure in great apes, ranging from semi-solitary to multi-male and multi-female systems, as well as variable habitats in which they live, we believe that this symposium will provide an exciting opportunity to produce a comprehensive evolutionary comparison from both ultimate and proximate perspectives. Combining research methods from observational to noninvasive behavioural experiments, such as touch-screen and eye-tracking technologies, we aim at unveiling behavioral and perceptual capacities of emotion communication in great apes. 

 

                      

Symposium 3: Is it time to phase out lab research on non-human primates?  
 

Organizers: Simone Pollo (Sapienza University of Rome) & Augusto Vitale (Istituto Superiore di Sanità)

 

Symposium Proposal:
The Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals in scientific procedures aims at increasingly reducing the number of animals used in laboratory research, while ensuring at the same time an elevated standard of animal welfare and scientific quality. However, although a negative trend in the use of animals in EU Member States has been noted in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of non-human primates (NHPs) used for research. NHPs are treated in a privileged way by the EU norms, due to the awareness triggered in society by the use of animals perceived very close to us, and considered to be able to experience pain and suffering in sophisticated ways. The increase of the NHPs used clashes with the increase of concern in the public for the use of these animals in laboratory research. The symposium aims to challenge directly the question whether it is time to seriously think about the possibility to phase out the use of NHPs in laboratory research. Experts invited to participate will be asked to discuss such hypothesis. Moral, political, and scientific reasons for and against such hypothesis will be discussed and challenged. 

                      

 

Symposium 4: Meaning, context and function: Studies on flexibility versus specificity in primate communication. 


Organizers: Marlen Fröhlich (University of Zurich; University of Tübingen) & Kirsty E. Graham (University of St Andrews)

 

Symposium Proposal: 
A central challenge in the study of primate communication has been determining what signals “mean”, often with the aim to draw inferences about language evolution. Methodological approaches addressing this question vary widely between research domains, most notably between vocal and gesture researchers. The former have predominantly deployed playback experiments, while the latter rely on observational studies that initially focussed on context – the circumstances that immediately surround a communicative act. This focus on context has resulted in gestures being characterized as extraordinarily flexible, since the first studies reported large degrees of means-end dissociation (i.e. the use of several signals for the same context and vice versa). However, there is now growing consensus that we need to distinguish signal types that are produced for several communicative functions (“functional flexibility”), from those that are produced in a range of contexts (“contextual flexibility”). Contact calls, for example, are “contextually flexible” as they are produced in multiple contexts, but not “functionally flexible” as their function is nonetheless specific, namely maintaining group cohesion. 
To gain insight about signal function (“meaning”) rather than context, comparative researchers have increasingly studied receiver behaviour and interaction outcomes. As a result, recent work suggests that many gesture types are more functionally specific than previously acknowledged, and others that remain seemingly functionally flexible are mostly disambiguated by means of situational context. In the meantime, interest in and evidence for vocal functional flexibility has increased. However, not all signals can be easily fitted into this paradigm focusing on interaction outcomes, as they do not necessarily result in an immediate change in a specific recipient’s behaviour (e.g. the contact calls mentioned above). While meaning, context and function are often used synonymously, we here want to discuss to which extent these concepts differ, as well as the implications this has for comparative research on language origins. Inviting contributions from various domains of primate communication research, this symposium aims to showcase current work in this field and discuss ways to move forward and bridge gaps between research groups. 

                      

 

Symposium 5: Are we smart enough to know what great apes need – studies in great ape welfare. 


Organizers: Jeroen Stevens (Odisee Hogeschool), Daan Lameris (University of Antwerp) & Johanna Neufuss (University of Bimingham)

 

Symposium Proposal: 
In the last decade, welfare of animals in human care is becoming ever more important for science and society. Animal welfare science is a burgeoning field, mainly focusing on farm and domestic animals. Society is becoming more and more involved in the debate around animal welfare, leading to public discussion on whether or how to keep animals in captivity. Modern zoos strive to offer optimal welfare to the animals in their care. Great apes play a central part in this discussion, because on the one hand they are endangered in the wild, and zoos can play a key role in raising awareness and funds to support actions and conservation. On the other hand there are ethical debates on whether they should be kept in captivity, and whether they can have “a life worth living”. For this, an accurate understanding of great ape welfare is needed. Welfare science in farm and domestic animals has made major conceptual and methodological leaps, which are not always incorporated in studies of great apes. The aim of this symposium is to bring together speakers who use innovative approaches to study great ape welfare in zoos or sanctuaries, using a combination of resource-based, husbandry-based and animal-based indicators, focusing on different domains of welfare, including housing, nutrition, health and behaviour which can all influence affective states of great apes in our care, and thus ultimately their welfare. 

                      

 

Symposium 6: Exchanging methods in the ethological study of human and non-human primates. 


Organizer: Virginia Pallante (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement)

Symposium Proposal: 

Decades of research in primatology extensively contributed to track a behavioral continuity between human and non-human primates. This continuity, however, has frequently been addressed without an extensive inclusion of humans in the ethological research, leaving the study of human behavior to disciplines other than primatology. The intent of this panel is to fill this gap by promoting a discussion between different fields that focus on similar questions and theories in human and non-human species. We aim to present how different methodologies advanced by different disciplines may be integrated to provide an ethological perspective on human behavior, offering a scientific and systematic evolutionary approach on humans and contributing to build a cross fields bridge for the ethological study of our species.

The panel includes contributions from sociology, anthropology, social psychology and criminology, that focus on human behavior by combining methodologies that are 1. Developed in the primatological field for the study of nonhuman primates and adapted to humans and 2. Proper of disciplines different from primatology but offering relevant material for an ethological understanding of humans. While the first integrate methodological standards based on naturalistic observations on human behavior to directly obtain ethological data, the latter include secondary data that provide information on background characteristics (e.g., demographic, socio-economic etc.) on the persons under study. We suggest that the conjunction of such twofold – direct and indirect – approaches advance the understanding and explanation of human behavior, and further has the potential for adaptation into the study of nonhuman primates. We advocate a future consistent interdisciplinary communication leading to the exploration of human nature from an evolutionary perspective.

                      

 

Symposium 7: Perspectives on non-human primates’ economic behaviour(s). 
 

Organizers: Elsa Addessi (CNR, Rome), Francesca De Petrillo (Newcastle University) & Valerie Dufour (University of Tours)

 

Symposium Proposal: 
In the last decade, non-human primate economic behaviour has been among the most debated topics in the fields of primate cognition, evolutionary biology and behavioural ecology. Although non-human primates have not developed human-like economic systems (i.e., culturally-established structures through which exchanges, or other joint activities, can take place for the general benefit), they do possess some of the cognitive pre-requisites for human economic behaviour. Here, we will attempt to elucidate which shared cognitive abilities and basic mechanisms in our closest relatives may have promoted the evolution of human sophisticated economies. This symposium will provide an overview of the current research on non-human primate economics from a range of perspectives, spanning from individuals to societies. Contributions will include, but will not limited to, value-based decision-making, token exchange, decision-making over time and under risk, economic games, reciprocity, prosociality and cooperation. The discussion arising from this exchange of perspectives will foster the debate on the evolutionary origins of economic behaviour and pave the way for future waves of comparative research that can help us evaluate which selective pressures led to the emergence of primate economies, including our own. 

                      

 

Symposium 8: Advancing the modelling of food resource distributions for the investigation of behavior.

 

Organizer: Urs Kalbitzer (University of Konstanz & Max-Planck Institute of Animal Behavior)

Symposium Proposal: 
Many theories about the ecology and evolution of animal behavior are centered around the distribution and abundance of food resources. For example, the spatial and temporal distribution of food resources is considered crucial to understand foraging and movement decisions, whether individuals form - temporarily or permanently - social groups, or how conspecifics compete with each other over available food resources. In addition, the cognitive demands of locating available resources has been central to ideas about the evolution of intelligence and brain size, and these demands are dependent on how such resources are distributed. Taken together, food resource distribution is central to investigations of foraging, movement, and social behavior and also has repercussions for ideas about the evolution of cognition and intelligence. Nonetheless, coherent modelling of resource distribution in primatological studies (and animal studies in general) often rely on broad categories such as clumped vs. widely and evenly distributed resources (e.g., fruit vs. leaves) or dry vs. wet season (low vs. high availability), resulting in an incomplete understanding of how environmental variability may affect behavior. Therefore, our aim for this symposium is to discuss exciting new directions and techniques to assess and model the distribution of different food resources at levels relevant for the behaviors under investigation.

                      

 

Symposium 9: Getting into the mind of the forager - Studying cognition in humans and other primates under natural foraging conditions.

Organizers: Karline Janmaat (University of Amsterdam) & Miguel de Guinea (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Symposium Proposal:

In this symposium we present the results of case studies examining specific foraging decisions of human and non-human primates across a series of socio-ecological and developmental gradients. Efficient foraging across ecosystems that are characterized by complex patterns of food resource distribution requires a cognitive ability to locate such resources but also to know their temporal cycles of productivity. Here we show that non-human primates (chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, and bonobos, Pan paniscus) are able to gather sensory information en route and integrate it with past experiences to reach foraging sites. In addition, we present evidence that non-human primates (mandrills, Mandrillus sphynx) show the skills necessary to keep track of time intervals of renewable food resources and to navigate flexibly across virtual reality scenarios (chimpanzees). While using their cognition to decide where and when to forage, primates are thought to flexibly modulate their foraging strategies in response to external drivers. We present evidence for such responses to 1) variability in food availability (in bamboo lemur, Hapalemur meridionalis), 2) predation risk (in sooty mangabeys, Cercocebus atys), 3) within-group competition (in mandrills), 4) sleeping site locations (in skywalker gibbon, Hoolock tianxing, and chimpanzees) and 5)  familiarity with the area (in chimpanzees). We furthermore present results from studies on human hunter-gatherers (Homo sapiens) that indicate that foraging children learn to optimize their orientation abilities, foraging performance, and botanical knowledge over the years. This opens up new questions on how foraging cognition develops in non-human primates. The results presented in this symposium stress the importance of considering the role of context, but also of individual differences in experience, on the foraging decisions of wild non-human primates. The finding presented can help us to better understand the intra-and inter individual variation in foraging decisions and further improve the designs of comparative studies across populations and species that investigate the evolutionary function and development of foraging cognition.