Staff & Students
Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Centre for Research and Conservation
Koningin Astridplein 20-26, 2018 Antwerp BELGIUM
+32 3 202 4551
Manager Research and Conservation
zjef.pereboom [at] kmda.org
+32 3 202 4580
As acting head of the RZSA’s Centre for Research and Conservation I am primarily in charge of the development and delivery of the RZSA’s Research Plan, and managing the zoo research team. As International Studbook Keeper of the European breeding programme for bonobos (Pan paniscus) am involved in the management of this programme together with Jeroen Stevens. I am chairing the Research Committee of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, responsible for the implementation of the EAZA Research Strategy.
My current research interests are focussed on small population management, in particular how demographic and genetic data from captive breeding populations can be used to inform and optimise the management of wild and captive populations. This work is in collaboration with various international collaborators in the zoo community, the conservation community and academics.
I obtained PhD in Behavioural Ecology from Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and gained considerable research experience in animal behaviour (Utrecht University), molecular genetics (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London) and conservation genetics (RZSA). I am a visiting professor at the Universities of Utrecht (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium), involved in teaching and course development, and have supervised several PhD and MSc students and postdoc researchers.
- Willie, J., Tagg, N., Petre, C-A., Pereboom, J. J. M., & Lens, L. (2014). Plant selection for nest building by western lowland gorillas in Cameroon. Primates, 55(1), 41-49. 10.1007/s10329-013-0363-5
- Ndeloh-Etiendem, D., Tagg, N., Hens, L., & Pereboom, Z. (2013). Human use of Mawambi Hills forests, SW Cameroon: Implications for the survival of the Cross River gorilla. Endangered Species Research, 20, 167-179. 10.3354/esr00492
- Browne, R.K. , K. Wolfram, G. García, M.F. Bagaturov, & J.J.M. Pereboom (2011) Zoo-based amphibian research and conservation breeding programs. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 5(3):1-14.
- Ndeloh Etiendem, D., L. Hens and J. Pereboom. (2011) Traditional Knowledge Systems and the Conservation of Cross River Gorillas: a Case Study of Bechati, Fossimondi, Besali, Cameroon. Ecology and Society 16 (3): 22 http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04182-160322
- Pereboom, J.J.M., K. Leus & L. Van Elsacker (2011) Pro Natura et Scientia; Zoo research at the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp. Int. Zoo Yearbook 45 DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-1090.2011.00132.x
- Lopez-Vaamonde C., N. E. Raine, J. W. Koning, R. M. Brown, J. J. M. Pereboom, T. C. Ings,. Ramos-Rodriguez, W. C. Jordan & A. F. G. Bourke (2009) Lifetime reproductive success and longevity of queens in an annual social insect. Journal of Evolotionary Biology 22: 983-996 DOI 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01706.x
- Csatádi, K., K. Leus and J. J.M. Pereboom (2008) A brief note on the effects of novel enrichment on an unwanted behaviour of captive bonobos. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 112: 201-204. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2007.09.001
- Van Coillie S., Galbusera P., Roeder A.D., Schempp W., Stevens J.M.G., Leus K., Reinartz G., Pereboom J.J.M. (2008) Molecular paternity determination in captive bonobos and the impact of inbreeding on infant mortality. Animal Conservation 11: 306-312 doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2008.00186.x
- Lopez-Vaamonde C., R.M. Brown, J.J.M. Pereboom, W.C. Jordan & A. F.G. Bourke (2007). Effect of the queen on worker reproduction and new queen production in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Apidologie 38: 171-180. doi: 10.1051/apido:2006070
- Sumner, S., J.J.M. Pereboom and W.C. Jordan (2006). Differential gene expression and phenotypic plasticity in behavioural castes of the primitively eusocial wasp, Polistes canadensis. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 273:19-26.
- Pereboom, J. J.M., W.C. Jordan, S. Sumner, R.L. Hammond, and A. F.G. Bourke (2005). Differential gene expression in queen-worker caste determination in bumblebees. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 272, 1145–1152.
- Pereboom, J.J.M. and J.C. Biesmeijer (2003). Thermal constraints for stingless bees: the importance of body size and coloration. Oecologia 137: 42 - 50
- Pereboom, J.J.M., H.H.W. Velthuis and M.J. Duchateau (2003). The organisation of larval feeding in bumblebees (Hymenoptera, Apidae) and its significance to caste differentiation. Insectes Sociaux 50: 127-133
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jeroen.stevens [at] kmda.org
+32 490 64 34 43
I am a behavioural biologist working in the Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC) of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (RZSA) as a senior researcher in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. I run several research projects on various animal species in the two zoos run by the RZSA: Antwerp Zoo and Planckendael Wild Animal Park.
My research interests involve both ‘basic research’ - such as effects of dominance on reproductive success and on the exchange of grooming and other commodities – as well as more ‘applied topics’, studying the effects of captive environments on the behaviour of animals in zoos.
The more basic research mainly involves the study of bonobos at Planckendael Wild Animal Park. We focus on understanding the dynamics of social relations in captive settings. All research is non-invasive and includes observational studies and the collection urine samples to study bonobo endocrinology non-invasively, which are analysed in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
I am also coordinating the bonobo breeding program (EEP) since 2007, together with Zjef Pereboom.
The applied welfare research involves studies into the effects of captive environments on the behaviour of animals in zoos. We mainly study the influence of behavioural enrichment, the influence of visitor numbers and of the enclosures.
Specialties: Animal Behaviour; Ethology; Primate behaviour; Primatology; Great Apes; Chimpanzees; Bonobos; Primates
Animal Welfare; Zoo; Behavioural Enrichment; Visitor Effects; Visitor Studies; Post occupancy evaluation
I started working as a volunteer for the Bonobo Research Group at Planckendael Wild Animal Park in 1994, at the age of 16. Later, I did my Masters in the Biology Department of Antwerp University on male competition and intersexual strategies in captive bonobos. Afterwards I started a PhD-project on male reproductive strategies in captive bonobos, which was funded by IWT and for which I collected data in different European zoos. In 2005 I successfully defended this PhD thesis “Machos or Don Juans? The reproductive tactics of male bonobos in Captivity” at Antwerp University. Since 2007 I work as post doc at CRC and coordinate student research projects.
- Behringer V, Deschner T, Murtaugh R, Stevens JMG, Hohmann G (2014) Age-related changes in thyroid hormones of bonobos and chimpanzees indicate heterochrony in development. Journal of Human Evolution.
- Jaeggi AV, de Groot E, Stevens JMG, van Schaik CP (2013) Mechanisms of reciprocity in primates: testing for short-term contingency of grooming and food sharing in bonobos and chimpanzees. Evolution and Human Behavior 34: 69–77.
- Devreese L, Huynen M, Stevens JMG, Todd 1 (2013) Group Size of a Permanent Large Group of Agile Mangabeys (Cercocebus agilis) at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. Folia Primatologica 84:67–73
- Stevens JMG, Thyssen A,Laevens H, Vervaecke H (2013) The influence of zoo visitor numbers on the behaviour of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina). Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 1: 31-34
- Haspeslagh M, Stevens JMG, De Groot E, Dewulf J, Kalmar ID, Moons CPH (2013) A survey of foot problems, stereotypic behaviour and floor type in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in European zoos. Animal Welfare
- Behringer V, Hohmann G, Stevens JMG, Weltring A, Deschner T (2012) Adrenarche in bonobos (Pan paniscus): evidence from ontogenetic changes in urinary dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate levels. Journal of Endocrinology 214: 55–65.
- Jaeggi AV, Stevens JMG, van Schaik CP (2010) Tolerant food sharing and reciprocity is precluded by despotism among bonobos but not chimpanzees. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 143 (1): 41-51
- Van Coillie S, Galbusera P, Roeder AD, Schempp W, Stevens JMG, Leus K, Reinartz G, Pereboom Z. (2008) Molecular paternity determination in captive bonobos and the impact of inbreeding on infant mortality. Animal Conservation 11: 306-312
- Stevens JMG, Vervaecke H, De Vries H, Van Elsacker L. (2007) Sex differences in steepness of dominance hierarchies of captive bonobos. International Journal of Primatology 28:1417–1430.Stevens JMG, Vervaecke H, De Vries H, Van Elsacker L. (2006) Social Bonding in Bonobos: Testing the female bonded hypothesis. Primates 47(3): 210-217
- De Vries H, Stevens JMG, Vervaecke H. (2006) How to measure steepness: A new method to measure steepness of dominance hierarchies. Animal Behaviour 71: 585-592.
- Stevens JMG., Vervaecke H, De Vries H, Van Elsacker L. (2005) Peering is not a formal indicator of subordination in bonobos (Pan paniscus). American Journal of Primatology 65(3): 255-267.
- Stevens JMG, Vervaecke H, De Vries H, Van Elsacker L. (2005) The influence of steepness of dominance hierarchies on reciprocity and interchange in captive bonobos. Behaviour 142: 941-960.
Authored book chapters
- Vervaecke H, Stevens J, Van Elsacker L. (2003) Interfering with Others: Female-Female Reproductive Competition in Pan paniscus. In : Sexual selection and reproductive competition in primates; new perspectives and directions. Clara B. Jones, Editor: p.231-255.
- Lacambra C, Thompson J, Furuichi T, Vervacke H, Stevens J. (2005) Chapter 5: Bonobo (Pan paniscus). World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation. University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles. Pp 24-28 ISBN 0520246330
- Stevens JMG, Vervaecke H, Van Elsacker L. (2008) The bonobos’ adaptive potential: social relations under captive conditions. In: The bonobo: behaviour, ecology and conservation. T. Furuichi & J. Thompson (eds.) Springer Verlag: 19-38
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peter.galbusera [at] kmda.org
+32 490 64 33 30
- T. Callens, P. Galbusera, E. Matthysen, E.Y. Durand, M. Githiru, J. Huyghe, L. Lens 2011. Genetic signature of population fragmentation varies with mobility in seven bird species of a fragmented Kenyan cloud forest. Molecular Ecology 20, 1829-1844 (5.96).
- Sean Hoban, Heidi Hauffe, Silvia Perez Espona, Giorgio Bertorelle, Oscar Gaggiotti, Peter Galbusera, Richard Nichols, Craig Primmer, Gernot Segelbacher, Hans Siegismund, Marjatta Sihvonen, Carles Vilà, the ConGRESS Consortium, and Mike Bruford 2013. Bringing genetic diversity to the forefront of conservation policy and management: assessing the priorities of decision makers. Consevation Genetic Resources online Jan 2013.
- Hoban, Sean; Arntzen, J. W.; Bertorelle, Giorgio; Bryja, Josef; Fernandes, Margarida; Frith, Katie; Gaggiotti, Oscar; Galbusera, Peter; Godoy, Jose; Hauffe, Heidi; Hoelzel, Russel; Nichols, Richard; Pérez-Espona, Silvia; Primmer, Craig; Russo, Isa-Rita; Segelbacher, Gernot; Siegismund, Hans; Sihvonen, Marjatta; Sjögren-Gulve, Per; Vernesi, Cristiano; Vilà, Carles; Bruford, Michael. Conservation Genetic Resources for Effective Species Survival (ConGRESS): bridging the divide between conservation genetics research and practice. Journal of Nature Conservation in press 2013.
- Sean Hoban S., Gaggiotti O., ConGRESS Consortium and Bertorelle G. 2013. Sample Planning Optimization Tool for conservation and population Genetics (SPOTG): a software for choosing the appropriate number of markers and samples. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Online Jan 2013.
- Elmar Fienieg & Peter Galbusera 2013. The use and integration of molecular DNA information in conservation breeding rogrammes: a review. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research. 1 (2): 44-51.
- Jill M. Shephard, Rob Ogden, Piotr Tryjanowski, Ola Olsson, Peter Galbusera 2013. Is population structure in the European white stork determined by flyway permeability rather than translocation history? Ecology and Evolution doi:10.1002/ece3.845.
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philippe.helsen [at] kmda.org
+32 490 64 33 30
Conservation – population genetics / evolutionary biology
Most of my research centers around genetic variation (the prerequisite for evolutionary responses): its origin, reorganization, impact and maintenance in natural and ex-situ populations in an applied conservation context. I currently focus on unraveling how traditional genetics and genomics can enhance the success and sustainable of both in- and ex-situ breeding programmes. As such I am particularly interested in: (i) resolving taxonomical uncertainties, (ii) genetic characterization and conservation of wild populations, (iii) quantitative genetics using pedigree information, (iv) genetic adaptation to captivity, (v) the effects of inbreedin, (vi) developing tools that predict loss in genetic variability, among others
After finishing my masters in Biology at the University of Antwerp (major: Evolution, organisms and populations) I started my PhD on micro –and macro evolutionary processes within giant Opuntia cacti and their insect herbivores on Galápagos (2004-2008). Using genetics I described: phylogenetic patterns, fine-scale population genetic structures, host herbivore interactions and their implications on conservation. At the same time I became interested in potential links between genetics and developmental biology. During and after my PhD I taught and assisted in several biology courses (from general zoology to island biology) and supplied genetic consulting and assistance for several bachelor, master and PhD projects.
Later I became a research assistant at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (Belgium) were I enrolled in studies on morphological variability, adaptation and hybridization in cichlids and speciation within African rats and mice.
- Tkint T, Verheyen E, De Kegel B, Helsen P, Adriaens D (2012) Dealing with Food and Eggs in Mouthbrooding Cichlids: Structural and Functional Trade-Offs in Fitness Related Traits. PLOS ONE
- Helsen Ph., Verdyck P., Van Dongen, S. (2011) The influence of historical gene flow and ring speciation conditions on the genetics of morphological diverse Galapagos’ Opuntias Journal of Molecular Evolution.
- Helsen Ph., Verdyck P., Tye A., Van Dongen St (2009) Low levels of genetic differentiation between Opuntia echios varieties on Santa Cruz (Galapagos). Plant Systematics and Evolution 279: 1-10.
- Helsen Ph., Van Dongen, S. (2009) The normal distribution as appropriate model of developmental instability in Opuntia cacti flowers. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22: 1346-1353.
- Helsen Ph., Browne RA, Anderson DJ, Verdyck P. & Van Dongen S. (2008) Galapagos’ Opuntia (Prickly Pear) Cacti: Extensive Morphological Diversity, Low Genetic Variability. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 96: 451-461.
- Helsen Ph., Verdyck P., Van Dongen S. Phylogeny and population genetics of a specialist Opuntia feeder: Gerstaeckeria galapagoensis. (Under Revision)
- Helsen Ph., Van Dongen S. Strong associations between floral asymmetry and individual genetic variability in Opuntia cacti (Heredity – Under revision)
- Helsen Ph., Verdyck P., Tye A., Desender K., Van Houtte N., Van Dongen St. (2007) Isolation and characterization of polymorphic microsatellite markers in Galapagos prickly pear (Opuntia) cactus species. Molecular Ecology Notes 7: 454-456.
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Project Director 'Projet Grands Singes' (Cameroon)
nikki.tagg [at] kmda.org
+32 490 64 33 27
Conservation biology | Primatology
I oversee an in situ conservation project (Projet Grands Singes) in East region, Cameroon, where a local team of technical and logistic staff maintain a close collaboration with the members of six rural villages within the northern buffer zone of the Dja Biosphere Reserve – an exceptional priority area for great ape conservation. PGS-Cameroon seeks external funding and strategic partnerships for development initiatives in the villages, and collaborates closely with local authorities to increase awareness and application of wildlife law in the region. I coordinate conservation-applied research on great ape socio-ecology and related disciplines in a tract of secondary forest within a forestry management unit bordering the DBR, approximately 10km from the villages, where PGS-Cameroon maintains a research camp. Within the CRC, my role is also to assist in the development and coordination of other conservation-applied research efforts in target habitat countries.
I am interested in the socio-ecology of chimpanzees and gorillas and how behavior (ranging, nesting, feeding) is guided by their sympatry, habitat, availability of resources, climatic conditions, cultural differences and anthropogenic influences. I study the effect of human activities on great ape abundance, in particular the effects of hunting, logging operations and researcher presence and activity: the majority of such research has clear conservation applications. I also have an interest in the fundamental socio-ecological descriptions of great apes, including nesting behavior, diet (insectivory, meat-eating), tool use, etc, and the comparison of these aspects between great ape species and across the range of great apes.
I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology at the University of Wales, Cardiff, UK, in 2000, and then defended my PhD in Evolutionary Ecology at Southampton University, UK, in 2004. I have since lived and worked in Central Africa, predominantly involved with great ape conservation and research projects. In particular, I volunteered in the Republic of Congo for 1 year, and then worked for Max Planck (EVAN), Leipzig, in Loango National Park, Gabon for 2 years, on the launch of a chimpanzee and gorilla habituation and research project. Since then I have worked for the CRC: in Cameroon for 4 years – during which time I re-launched PGS from temporary closure and helped re-build the project’s infrastructure – and later in the UK for 2 years, before moving to Antwerp in August 2013. Since being based in Europe, I concentrate on disseminating the scientific output and conservation impact of PGS, seeking external funding, building research collaborations and strategic partnerships, supervising PhD and Masters students and developing the PGS project and research plan.
- Etiendem DN & Tagg N. (2013) Feeding Ecology of Cross River gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli) at Mawambi Hills: the influence of resource seasonality. International Journal of Primatology, DOI 10.1007/s10764-013-9739-z.
- Etiendem, DN, Tagg, N, Hens, L & Pereboom, Z. (2013) Human use of Mawambi Hills forests, SW Cameroon: Implications for the survival of the Cross River gorilla. Endangered Species Research 20: 167-179.
- Etiendem DN, Funwi-Gabga N, Tagg N, Hens L & Endah EK. (2013) Habitat suitability and vulnerability to anthropogenic disturbance for Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) at Mawambi Hills, SW Cameroon. Folia Primatologica. 84: 18-31.
- Petre C-A, Tagg N, Haurez B, Beudels-Jamar R, Huynen M-C & Doucet J-L (2013) Role of the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in seed dispersal in tropical forests and implications of its decline. Biotechnol. Agron. Soc. Environ. 17(3): 517-526.
- Tagg N & Willie J. (2013) The influence of transect use by local people and re-use of transects for repeated surveys on nesting in western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in southeast Cameroon. International Journal of Primatology, 34: 554-570.
- Tagg N, Willie J, Petre C-A & Haggis O. (2013) Ground night nesting in chimpanzee: new insights from central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in southeast Cameroon. Folia Primatologica, 84: 362-383.
- Willie J, de la Pena E, Tagg N & Lens L (2013a) Effects of abiotic factors on herbaceous plant community structure: a case study n southeast Cameroon. In Herbaceous plants: cultivation methods, grazing and environmental impacts, F Wallner (ed.). New York: Nova Publishers.
- Willie J, Tagg N, Petre CA, Pereboom Z, Lens L (2013b). Plant selection for nest building by western lowland gorillas in Cameroon. Primates. DOI: 10.1007/s10329-013-0363-5.
- Willie J, Petre C-A & Tagg N. (2012a) Evaluation of species richness estimators using data on rainforest understorey herbs of Cameroon. Acta Oecologica. 45: 31-41.
- Willie J, Tagg N, Petre C-A & Lens L. (2012b) Density of herbaceous plants and distribution of western gorillas in different habitat types in southeast Cameroon. African Journal of Ecology. 51: 111-121.
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Project Director 'BioBrasil' (Brazil)
kristel.devleeschouwer [at] kmda.org | kristeldv [at] yahoo.com | Skype: kristelmyriam
Conservation Biology, Behavioural Ecology, Primate Ecology and Behaviour
After graduating as a biologist from the University of Antwerp in 1993, I obtained my PhD through the same institution in May 2000. I have been affiliated to the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp (RZSA) as a researcher since 1992, and am involved in conservation-directed research on golden-headed lion tamarins (GHLTs) since 1995. My doctoral thesis addressed the fundamental biology of golden-headed lion tamarins and an evaluation of contraceptive methods used in captivity, and was directly linked to the needs of the species’ conservation breeding program. While working as a postdoctoral researcher, I also provided assistance to the International Studbook keeper, and scientific background to the RZSA’s educational programs using GHLTs as focal species.
In September 2002, I started up Project BioBrasil, a conservation research project in Southern-Bahia, with the objective to investigate the ecology and behaviour of the species in degraded and fragmented areas. The Project’s ultimate goal is to answer fundamental questions on the ecological ﬂexibility of species in response to forest fragmentation and disturbance, and provide basic information essential for the development of a conservation management and research plan in collaboration with local and international partners (See BioBrasil site). As the Project´s Scientific and Logistics supervisor, I am responsible for scientific program planning, supervision of scientific activities, scientific writing, building strategic partnerships and research collaborations, managing technical and logistical staff, contract management, project development, fund-raising and accounting, and project representation.
After years of scientific research, I am now increasingly working towards elaborating strategies that build on the research results obtained in the past years to develop science-driven conservation actions. That means, in addition to supervising research projects seeking to address important research priorities for conservation, planning and elaborating developmental projects that are of particular relevance to the conservation of GHLTs and their landscape, and working with local and international partners to ensure their implementation.
- Zeigler, S.L., De Vleeschouwer K.M. and Raboy, B.E. (2013) Assessing extinction risk in small metapopulations of golden-headed lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysomelas). Biotropica 45(4): 528-535.
- Pessoa MS, De Vleeschouwer KM, Talora DC, Rocha L & Amorim AM (2012) Reproductive phenology of Miconia mirabilis (Melastomataceae) within three distinct physiognomies of Atlantic Forest, Bahia, Brazil. Biota Neotropica 12(2): 49-56.
- Fontoura T, Cazetta E, Nascimento W, Catenacci L, De Vleeschouwer K & Raboy BE (2010) Frugivory on the bromeliad species Aechmea depressa L.B. Smith (Bromeliaceae) from northeastern Brazil: the prominent role taken by a small forest primate? Biota Neotropica 10(4): 351-354.
- Catenacci LS, De Vleeschouwer KM & Nogueiro-Filho SLG. (2009) Seed dispersal by Leontopithecus chrysomelas (Primates, Callitrichidae) in Southern Bahian Atlantic Forest, Brazil. Biotropica 41(6): 744–750.
Book and book chapters
- De Vleeschouwer KM & Raboy BE (2013) Multi-level and multi-disciplinary approaches to understanding endangered primates in complex landscapes: Golden-headed lion tamarins in Southern Bahia, Brazil. In: Primates in Fragments: Complexity and Resilience. Edited by L. Marsh and C. Chapman.
- Pessoa M., De Vleeschouwer KM, Amorim, AM & Talora DC (2011) Calendário fenológico. Uma ferramenta para auxiliar no cultivo de espécies arbóreas nativas da floresta Atlântica do Sul da Bahia. Instituto Cabruca. Editus, Ilheus, Bahia.
Organization of Scientific Events and workshops
- De Vleeschouwer K, Oliveira L, Zeigler S, Raboy B (2011) Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin Research Symposium: “Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin Research in 21st Century: Recent Advances and Potential Areas of Future Research” Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz December 7 and 8, 2011. [Symposium Report: De Vleeschouwer K, Oliveira L, Raboy B, Raghunathan N & Zeigler S. Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin Research in 21st Century: Recent Advances and Potential Areas of Future Research.]
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Project Director 'LuiKotale Bonobo Project' (DR Congo)
fruth [at] biologie.uni-muenchen.de
I am co-directing the LuiKotale Bonobo Project with Gottfried Hohmann, co-ordinating and supervising the research conducted at our field site running with a permanent presence of changing local and foreign staff since 2002. My tasks range from mediating that project on local, regional and national levels in the host-country, over the initiation, development and conduction of applied and fundamental research, as well as community development projects. The acquisition of the funding needed for these various often interwoven aspects is also part of my responsibilities. In addition, I contribute to the interface between research in captivity and the wild.
Bonobos (Pan paniscus) became my major research interest as they had challenged the traditional concepts of human evolution. In the early 1990ies, their most striking peculiarities with respect to biological paradigms and in comparison to their sister species, the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), were seen in their:
- social organisation, with cooperation and bonding among females despite exogamy and thus a low degree of relatedness, and lack of cooperation among males despite male philopatry;
- remarkable mating behaviour, with a broad spectrum of sexual interactions including social sex;
- moderate aggression, with particular focus on males, and the resulting social structure with females (co-)dominating males despite sexual dimorphism biased toward males;
- moderate to absent hunting, but sharing of fruit; and
- lack of material culture.
My goal was to investigate the adaptive significance of their social behaviour focusing on the above mentioned peculiarities within the ecological context of their natural environment.
Since representatives of our own species depend on the same habitat as do bonobos, but impact bonobos more than any other species, my interests expanded to human (Homo sapiens) behavioural ecology. With accumulating knowledge of the threats and chances emerging from this ecological, genetic and cultural proximity between humans and apes, my interests also focus on finding solutions for long-term conservation without depriving local populations from their traditional standards. Investigations of indigenous plant use with particular focus on medicinal plants were a first step into the development of means for a sustainable use of forest products in order to contribute to habitat conservation in the long run.
In parallel I attempt additional ways to better understand and subsequently face current threats linked to bonobo survival. This includes conduction of bonobo viability assessments; establishment of environmental education programs; investigation of plant animal interactions; a focus on health issues as well as on the use of plants for self-medication.
Focusing on "Nests, Nutcracking Sites and Population Density of Chimpanzees: Studies on Regional Differences in the South Western Part of Ivory Coast (Rép. de Côte d'Ivoire).” I graduated from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) in 1990. Thereafter I started working under the umbrella of the Max-Planck Society establishing in collaboration with Gottfried Hohmann our first bonobo study site at Lomako, DRC (at that time Zaïre). My goal was to investigate the adaptive significance of Bonobo social behaviour within the ecological context of their natural environment. Part of this work resulted in my PhD (1995) “Nests and Nest Groups in Wild Bonobos (Pan paniscus): Ecological and Behavioural Correlates.” For my post-doctoral work (1996-1998) I was affiliated to the Miami-University in Oxford, Ohio and the Max-Planck-Institute for Behavioural Physiology in Seewiesen. I started a study of the overlap in the use of plant resources by humans and apes. These studies were interrupted in 1998 by the second Congo war. In 2002 I took up again field-research at LuiKotale, the new site Gottfried Hohmann and I initiated to continue our investigations on bonobo behavioural ecology. With my project, “The Cuvette Centrale as a reservoir of medicinal plants”, I intended to identify socio-cultural and economic aspects of biodiversity to better conserve endangered refuges of local and global significance, while I invested in the habituation and notion of our new bonobo community. Integrating my work from Lomako and LuiKotale, I obtained my Habilitation (post-doctoral lecture qualification) from LMU for the thesis “Challenging traditional concepts: Bonobo (Pan paniscus) behaviour and the quest for their habitat conservation by sustainable use of plants”. Since January 2014 I am a private lecturer and senior researcher at LMU Munich and affiliated to CRC/KMDA.
Peer reviewed publications (past 5 years)
- Beaune D, Bretagnolle F, Bollache L, Hohmann G & B Fruth (2015). Can fruiting plants control animal behaviour and seed dispersal distance? Behaviour 152: 359–374
- Wilson ML, Boesch C, Fruth B, Furuichi T, Gilby IC, Hashimoto C, Hobaiter CL, Hohmann G, Itoh N, Koops K, Lloyd JN, Matsuzawa T, Mitani JC, Mjungu DC, Morgan D, Muller MN, Mundry R, Nakamura M, Pruetz J, Pusey AE, Riedel J, Sanz C, Schel AM, Simmons N, Waller M, Watts DP, White F, Wittig RM, Zuberbühler K, Wrangham RW. (2014) Lethal aggression in Pan is better explained by adaptive strategies than human impacts. Nature 513: 414-417
- Fruth B, Ikombe NB, Matshimba GK, Metzger S, Muganza DM, Mundry R, Fowler A (2014) New evidence for self-medication in bonobos: Manniophyton fulvum leaf- and stemstrip-swallowing from LuiKotale, Salonga National Park, DR Congo. Am J Primatol 76(2):146-58
- Beaune D, Bretagnolle F, Bollache L, Hohmann G, Surbeck M, Bourson C & Fruth B. (2013). The bonobo-Dialium positive interactions: seed dispersal mutualism. American Journal of Primatology.
- Beaune D, Bretagnolle F, Bollache L, Hohmann G, Surbeck M & Fruth B. (2013). Seed dispersal strategies and the threat of defaunation in a Congo forest. Biodiversity and Conservation 22(1):225-238.
- Beaune D, Fruth B, Bollache L, Hohmann G & Bretagnolle F. (2013). Doom of the elephant-dependent trees in a Congo tropical forest. Forest Ecology and Management 295: 109-117.
- Beaune D, Bollache L, Fruth B & Bretagnolle F. (2012). Bush pig (Potamochoerus porcus) seed predation of bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis) and other plant species in Democratic Republic of Congo. African Journal of Ecology 50: 509-512.
- Beaune D, Bollache L, Bretagnolle F & Fruth B. (2012). Dung beetles are critical in preventing post-dispersal seed removal by rodents in Congo rain forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 28: 507-510.
- Fruth B. (2012). La Convention sur la Diversité Biologique en République Démocratique du Congo : Mise en oeuvre du projet «La Cuvette Centrale comme réservoir de plantes médicinales». Ethnopharmacologia 48: 27-37.
- Laurance WF, Carolina Useche D, Rendeiro J, Kalka M, Bradshaw CJA, Sloan SP, Laurance SG, Campbell M, Abernethy K, Alvarez P et al. (2012). Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature 489(7415): 290-294.
- Muganza DM, Fruth B, Lami JN, Mesia GK, Kambu OK, Tona GL, Kanyanga RC, Cos P, Maes L, Apers S & Pieters L. (2012). In vitro antiprotozoal and cytotoxic activity of 33 ethonopharmacologically selected medicinal plants from Democratic Republic of Congo. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 141(1): 301-308.
- Fruth B, Mato B, Lukoki F, Lejoly J & Muganza M. (2011). Care for health and body: an ethnobotanical approach to Nkundo plant use (Cuvette Centrale, DRC) with focus on the significance of indigenous knowledge for the human skin. Curare 34(4):261-281.
- Fruth B. (2011b). The CBD in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): the project “The Cuvette Centrale as a reservoir of medicinal plants” in the process of implementation. Curare 34(1+2):51-62.
- Oelze VM, Fuller BT, Richards MP, Fruth B, Surbeck M, Hublin JJ & Hohmann G. (2011). Exploring the contribution and significance of animal protein in the diet of bonobos by stable isotope ratio analysis of hair. PNAS 108(24):9792-9797.
Book Chapters & Conference Proceedings (past 5 years)
- Fruth B. (2015) Un pouvoir au féminin. Pour la Science Nº 86: 64-68
- Fruth B. Das Kongobecken und seine Regenwälder in Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft. Christian Feest & Christine Kron (editors). Regenwald: Begleitbuch zur Sonderausstellung im Ausstellungszentrum Lokschuppen Rosenheim | 20. März bis 29. November 2015; pp. 110-119.
- Fruth B. Primaten: Verwandtschaft aus dem Regenwald. Christian Feest & Christine Kron (editors). Regenwald: Begleitbuch zur Sonderausstellung im Ausstellungszentrum Lokschuppen Rosenheim | 20. März bis 29. November 2015; pp. 131-135.
- Fruth B, Williamson EA & Richardson M. (2013). Bonobo Pan paniscus In: Mittermeier RA & Wilson DE, editors. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions
- Liebs V, Bikandu B, Lassa L, Lukoki F, Schareika N & Fruth B. (2013). Signifying competence: urban herbalists seeking affirmation in Kinshasa In: Obrist B, Macamo E & Arlt V, editors. Living the City. Zürich: Lit Verlag. pp. 213-234.
- Hohmann G & Fruth B. (2011). Is blood thicker than water? In: Robbins MM & Boesch C, editors. Among African Apes: Stories and Photos from the Field. Berkeley: University of California Press. p 61-76.
- Fruth B. (2011) Die CBD in der Demokratischen Republik Kongo: Das Projekt „Die Cuvette Centrale als Heilpflanzenreservoir“ im Umsetzungsprozess. In: Paulsch A. & Paulsch C, editors, Das Übereinkommen über die Biologische Vielfalt (CBD) – ein Einstieg für Wissenschaftler. Regensburg: Ibn Schriftenreihe Band 01: 134-146.
- Fruth B, Mato B & Muganza M. (2010). Nkundo plant use (Cuvette Centrale, DRC) with a focus on indigenous knowledge and the application of aphrodisiacs. In: Brüne M, Salter F & McGrew WC, editors. Building Bridges between Anthropology, Medicine and Human Ethology. Bochum: The University Press. p 211-226.
Public Reports & Other Publications
- Fruth B. (2011a). Die Cuvette Centrale als Heilpflanzenreservoir: Ergebnisumsetzung & Projektabschluss (BMBF-Schlussbericht; FKZ 01LC0022 A2). 87 p.
- Fruth B., Benishay, J.M., Bila-Isia, I., Coxe, S., Dupain, J., Furuichi, T., Hart, J., Hart, T., Hashimoto, C., Hohmann, G., Hurley, M., Ilambu, O., Mulavwa, M., Ndunda, M., Omasombo, V., Reinartz, G., Scherlis, J., Steel, L. & Thompson, J. (2008). Pan paniscus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
francis.vercammen [at] kmda.org
+32 3 202 45 48
- Blooi, M., Martel, A., Vercammen, F., & Pasmans, F. (2013). Combining ethidium monoazide treatment with real-time PCR selectively quantifies viable Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis cells. Fungal Biology, 117(2), 156-162. Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.funbio.2013.01.004
- Vercammen, F., Bauwens, L., Deken, R. D., Ph, D., & Brandt, J. (2012). Prevalence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Mammals of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp , Belgium. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 43(1), 159-161.
- Muijsers, M., Martel, A., Van Rooij, P., Baert, K., Vercauteren, G., Ducatelle, R., De Backer, P., Vercammen, F, Haesebrouck, F; Pasmans, F (2012). Antibacterial therapeutics for the treatment of chytrid infection in amphibians: Columbus’s egg? BMC veterinary research, 8(1), 175. BMC Veterinary Research. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-175
jeroen.vandenhurk [at] kmda.org
+32 490 64 33 28
I am responsible for conducting genetic research in the molecular laboratory of the CRC. The topics of research include determining the relatedness, diversity, structure, and sex of both wild and captive animals. My tasks include managing samples from endangered species, guiding students with their experiments, and maintaining the laboratory.
I graduated as a Bachelor in Life Sciences from the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. During my study I specialized in genetics, utilizing my internships to gain practical experience in the field of marine biology (Universitas Indonesia and Wageningen University) and conservation genetics (CRC Antwerp). I worked as a volunteer on the island of Java, Indonesia, helping a local community to set up a marine protected area for both conservation and eco-tourism.
Research Coordinator 'Projet Grands Singes' (Cameroon)
jacob.fils.willie [at] gmail.com
- Tagg N & Willie J (2013) The influence of transect use by local people and reuse of transects for repeated surveys on nesting in western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in southeast Cameroon. International Journal of Primatology, 34: 554-570.
- Tagg N, Willie J, Petre CA & Haggis O (2013) Ground night nesting in chimpanzees: new insights from central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in southeast Cameroon. Folia Primatologica, 84: 362-383.
- Willie J, de la Pena E, Tagg N & Lens L (2013) Effects of abiotic factors on herbaceous plant community structure: a case study n southeast Cameroon. In Herbaceous plants: cultivation methods, grazing and environmental impacts, F Wallner (ed.). New York: Nova Publishers.
- Willie J, Tagg N, Petre, CA, Pereboom Z & Lens L (2013) Plant selection for nest building by western lowland gorillas in Cameroon. Primates, DOI 10.1007/z10329-013-0363-5.
- Willie, J., Petre, C.-A., Tagg, N., & Lens, L. (2012). Evaluation of species richness estimators based on quantitative performance measures and sensitivity to patchiness and sample grain size. Acta Oecologica, 45, 31-41. Elsevier Masson SAS. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2012.08.004
- Willie, J., Petre, C.-A., Tagg, N., & Lens, L. (2012). Density of herbaceous plants and distribution of western gorillas in different habitat types in south-east Cameroon. African Journal of Ecology,. doi:10.1111/aje.12014
Development Coordinator 'Projet Grands Singes' (Cameroon)
donaldmbohli [at] yahoo.co.uk
elke.vermeulen [at] kmda.org
+32 490 64 34 43
As a Research Assistant my main responsibility is helping out with the practical realization of basic and applied research in the field of Behavioral Biology, Conservation Biology and other related activities of the Centre for Research and Conservation (studbook analysis/ breeding programs etc.). I also assist in supervising Bachelor and Master students.
I work in both zoo’s run by the RZSA, Antwerp Zoo and Planckendael Wild Animal Park, on various animal species.
My current research interests involve both basic and applied research, with a focus on Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Enrichment, Animal Welfare, Ethology, Nutrition, Functional and Ecological Morphology, Genetics from Captive breeding populations, etc.
I obtained my Masters degree in Biology (Major: Cell and System Biology) at the University of Antwerp in 2013. After graduating I started a career in Research and Development (R&D), where I started working as a Clinical Trial Associate after which I switched to working as a Quality Engineer. Since January 2015 I work as a research assistant at the CRC.
Associate Postdoc Researcher
sandra.nauwelaerts [at] uantwerpen.be
Campus Drie Eiken
Universiteitsplein 1 D.C.129
2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
Functional and ecological morphology of Vertebrate Locomotion.
Neuromuscular control of the musculoskeletal system.
Transitions from water to land and vice versa.
Convertion of metabolic energy to mechanical energy in locomotion; locomotor efficiency; muscle efficiency.
Director Research & Development
linda.van.elsacker [at] kmda.org
+ 32 3 202 45 79
- Charles-Albert Petre | University of Liège, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech | Investigating the role of gorillas in forest maintenance and regeneration. More on ResearchGate
- Denis Ndeloh Etiendem | Free University of Brussels | Feeding ecology of Cross river gorillas: An evaluation of ecological and social factors influencing Cross river gorilla survival in Cameroon. More on ResearchGate
- Glenn Borgmans | University of Antwerp | Assessment of objective Welfare indicators for Amphibians and Reptiles in a captive Environment.
- Katja Wolfram | University of Antwerp | Mate choice and patterns of adaptive variation in Eurasian black vultures: An assessment using MHC and olfactory receptor gene analysis
- Mark Blooi | Ghent University | Chytridiomycosis in amphibians: Designing a efficient treatment protocol and defining the mechanisms of host-specificity. More on ResearchGate
- Mélodie Dieudonné | University of Liège | Anthropology, Conservation and Development: Analysis of practices and representations of local populations affected by the implementation of the conservation project "Projet Grands Singes" in the Dja Reserve in Cameroon.
- Nicky Staes | University of Antwerp | The role of neuropeptides as a proximate base for (pro)social behaviour: inter- and intraspecific comparison of bonobo and chimpanzee. More on ResearchGate
- Nima Ragunathan | University of Liège | Factors affecting seed dispersal, tree establishment and resource availability for endangered frugivorous primates in southern-Bahia: defaunation, matrix connectivity, and climate change. More on ResearchGate
Field Staff BioBrasil
- Kristel De Vleeschouwer PhD | Project Director
- Becky Raboy PhD | Associated Researcher, Project Consultant
- Leonardo Oliveira PhD | Associated Researcher, Project Consultant
- Josinei da Silva Santos | Research assistant
- Lilian Silva Catenacci MSc | Researcher, veterinary assistance
- Michaele de Souza Pessoa MSc | Associated Researcher, Project Consultant
- Samantha Rocha | Research technician
- Suzane Dias de Souza BSc | Data management, veterinary assistance
Field Staff PGS
- Nikki Tagg PhD | Project Director
- Bernadette Bayimbe | PGS Logistical Support
- Luc Tedonzong | Research assistant
- Jacob Willie | Research Coordinator
- Donald Mbohli | PGS development coordinator
- Honorine Nyanda | PGS Housekeeper
Honorary Research Associates
- Adinda Sannen PhD | University College Sint Lieven, Sint Niklaas, BELGIUM
- Hilde Vervaecke PhD | University College Sint Lieven, Sint Niklaas, BELGIUM
- Kristin Leus PhD | IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group Europe | EAZA
- Philippe Jouk PhD | RZSA
- Verena Behringer PhD| Max Planck Institute Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, GERMANY
- Dalia Amor Conde PhD | Max Planck Centre for Demographic Research, Odense, DENMARK
- Pieter Oliehoek PhD | Wageningen University, The NETHERLANDS
Previous Staff Members
- Kristiaan D'Aout PhD
- Robert Browne PhD
- Jill Shephard PhD
- Mia Hillyer
- Evelien De Groot MSc
- Ann Schellens
- Johan Wuyts PhD
- Sara Gillemot MSc
- Arnela Jusic BSc