Erica van de Waal
The transmission of traditions in wild primates:
an experimental approach with vervet monkeys
Branco Weiss Fellow with Professor van Schaik at the
University of Zurich & scientific coordinator of the
Inkawu Vervet Project field site
My research focuses on understanding cultural evolution through
studying social learning in primates. I have been working on wild
vervet monkeys since the start of my master degree ten years
ago and I am the research coordinator of the field site:
‘Inkawu Vervet Project’ in South Africa.
My project yields unique insights into tradition formation in wild
primates by adding an experimental approach to the commonly
used observational approach. I will test the effect of a model’s
identity in the extent to which novel innovations spread, and also
examine the spatial and temporal scales on which traditions may
The combined results will assess the role of social learning
for behavioural phenotypes in a wild primate population, which
should help us to better understand what makes our human
culture so unique.
|since 2014|| Branco Weiss Fellow |
at AIM, UZH, Switzerland
|2011 - 2014|| Post Doc |
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
and University of St. Andrews, Scotland
|2006-2010|| PhD thesis in Eco-Ethology |
University of Neuchâtel,
|2006|| Master of science |
in Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution
with Prof. Redouan Bshary andProf. Ronald Noe
"How to negotiate without language? Grooming
markets in vervet monkeys."
At University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
|2004|| Bachelor of science |
at University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
van de Waal E, Claidière N & Whiten A 2015
Wild vervet monkeys discriminate and copy alternative methods for opening
an artificial fruit.
Animal Cognition, doi: 10.1007/s10071-014-0830-4
Pasquaretta C, Levé M, Claidière N, van de Waal E, Whiten A, MacIntosh AJ,
... & Sueur C 2014
Social networks in primates: smart and tolerant species have more efficient
Scientific Reports, 4. doi: 10.1038/srep07600
van de Waal E, Bshary R & Whiten A 2014
Field experiments show wild vervet monkey infants acquire maternal food-
Animal Behaviour 90, 41-45.
Tournier E, Tournier V, van de Waal E, Barrett A, Brown L & Bshary R 2014
Differences in diet between six neighbouring groups of vervet monkeys.
Ethology 120, 1-12.
Borgeaud C, van de Waal E & Bshary R 2013
Third-party ranks knowledge in wild vervet monkeys
(Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus).
PLoS ONE 8(3): e58562. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058562
Renevey N, Bshary R & van de Waal E (in press)
Philopatric vervet monkey females are the focus of social attention
rather independently of rank.
van de Waal E & Whiten A 2013
Social learning and spread of alternative means of opening an artificial food
in four groups of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops).
Animal Behaviour 85, 71-76.
van de Waal E, Borgeaud C & Whiten A 2013
Potent social learning and conformity shape a wild primate’s
Science Vol. 340 no. 6131 pp. 483 - 485 DOI:10.1126/science.1232769
Similarity in food cleaning techniques within matrilines in wild vervet
PLoS ONE 7(4): e35694. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035694.
Selective Attention in Social Learning of Vervet Monkey.
In N.M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning
(Vol. 7, pp. 2988-2989). New York et al.: Springer.
Spontaneous emergence, imitation and spread of alternative foraging
techniques among groups of vervet monkeys.
PLoS ONE 7(10): e47008. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047008.
How intelligent is Machiavallian behaviour?
Strüngmann Forum: Animal thinking: Cotemporary issues in
Infant access and handling in sooty mangabeys and vervet monkeys.
Animal Behaviour 81, 153-161.
Social learning abilities of wild vervet monkeys in a two-step task
artificial fruit experiment.
Animal Behaviour 81, 433-438 .
Selective attention to philopatric models causes directed social learning
in wild vervet monkeys.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London ‘B’ 277, 2105-2111.
Contact with human facilities appears to enhance technical skills in wild
vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops).
Folia Primatologica 81, 282-291.