Evolution of primate social and sexual behavior
My research focuses on the evolution of non-human primate behavior. As a behavioral ecologist, I am interested in the ultimate explanations of behavior: What benefit to the individual resulted in positive selection of the behavior? My current work encompasses both cooperation and mating in two completely different species.
Together with collaborators at Columbia University and NYU, I am investigating cooperation and collective action in wild blue monkeys, a small, arboreal species in Africa. We examine how costs and benefits to the individual, including kinship, affect cooperative acts like allo-grooming and territorial defense. In long tailed macaques, a terrestrial Asian primate, I am conducting temporal and spectral analyses of recordings of female mating calls to determine whether they signal the female’s fertile state.
Nikitopoulos E., Heistermann M., de Vries H., Sterck E.H.M., van Hooff J.A.R.A.M. 2005. A pair choice test to identify female mating pattern in relation to ovulation in long-tailed macaques, Macaca fascicularis. Animal Behaviour 70: 1283-1296.
Nikitopoulos E., Arnhem E., Sterck E.H.M., van Hooff J.A.R.A.M. 2004. The influence of female copulation calls on male sexual behavior in captive Macaca fascicularis. International Journal of Primatology 25: 659-677.