Elsa Lathion


My master thesis, supervised by Professor Klaus Zuberbühler and Professor
Redouan Bshary, is a seven months study (September 2014-March 2015) on
the chimpanzees of the Sonsocommunity at the
Budongo Conservation Field
, Uganda.

The first long-term studies on chimpanzees already documented the importance
of aggressionin these animals. However, the function of some forms of aggression
remains unclear. Here, I will focus on instances of aggression that could function
as punishment. I will use the definition proposed by Clutton-Brock and Parker, i.e.
that an individual pays a cost to inflict costs on another individual with the function
to favourably alter the target's future behaviour. Until now it remains an open
question whether wild chimpanzees indeed punish.

I will focus my observations on three contexts. First, chimpanzees often give
food calls to attract group members to a site that offers high quality food. It
has been described that individuals sometimes remain silent instead of calling.
Second, individuals greet each other when two parties join. However, greeting
may be suppressed in the presence of a dominant who does not like to witness
bonding between other group members. Third, females in oestrus often give
copulation calls to inform other males about this activity but also may remain
silent. In all three situations, aggression has been observed.
The aim of this
study is to find out if there is punishment in wild chimpanzees and to describe
the settings in which it might occur, which may shed light on the evolution and
function of punishment in our own species.


Elsa Lathion

Université de Neuchâtel
Institut de Biologie
Rue Emile-Argand 11
2000 Neuchâtel