Corinne Ackermann

My general research focus lies in questions related to the evolution of social behaviour, social learning, culture, and cognition. In particular, I have been studying species that show a high level of social and cognitive complexity, i.e., primates and cetaceans. Methodologically, I am especially interested in the combination of observational data collected in the wild and laboratory analysis of biological samples, including genetics and endocrinology.

A growing literature shows that oxytocin is connected to the formation and maintenance of social bonds in humans, non-human primates and other mammals. However, there are still only a few studies investigating the role of oxytocin in the formation and maintenance of long-term social bonds in apes. The aim of my PhD project is to investigate how oxytocin levels, social interactions, and social bond status are related in wild juvenile chimpanzees. During their development juvenile chimpanzees go through an important behavioral change where they are still tied to their mothers and siblings (established long term bond) but also start to interact with unrelated group members (novel social partners). Studying oxytocin levels in juvenile chimpanzees during this social transition phase enables us to address questions concerning the physiological basis of social behavior.

For my thesis I am collaborating with Dr. Tobias Deschner, Dr. Roman Wittig and Dr. Catherine Crockford from the Max-Plank-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.


  • Kopps, A. M., Ackermann, C. Y., Sherwin, W. B., Allen, S. J., Bejder, L.,
    & Krützen, M. (2014).
    Cultural transmission of tool use combined with habitat specializations
    leads to fine-scale genetic structure in bottlenose dolphins.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281 (1782),
    DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.3245 1471-2954
  • Arora, N., Van Noordwijk, M. A., Ackermann, C., Willems, E. P., Nater, A.,
    Greminger, M., Nietlisbach, P., Dunkel, L.P.Utami Atmoko, S.S., Pamungkas
    J., Perwitasari-Farajallah D., van Schaik, C.P. & Krützen, M. (2012).
    Parentage‐based pedigree reconstruction reveals female matrilineal clusters
    and male‐biased dispersal in nongregarious Asian great apes, the Bornean
    orang‐utans (Pongo pygmaeus).
    Molecular ecology, 21(13), 3352-3362.
  •  van Noordwijk, M. A., Arora, N., Willems, E. P., Dunkel, L. P., Amda, R. N.,
    Mardianah, N., Ackermann, C., Krützen, M. & van Schaik, C.P. (2012).
    Female philopatry and its social benefits among Bornean orangutans.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66(6), 823-834.
    DOI: 10.1007/s00265-012-1330-7





May 2016

SNSF Doc.Mobility fellowship,
Bern, Switzerland

PhD project:
international guest research

~ 21’650 USD

Apr 2016

Subvention égalité,
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

PhD project:
travel and lodging field season 3

~ 3’750 USD

Dec 2015  

The L.S.B. Leakey Foundation Research Grant ,
California, USA

PhD project:
urinary oxytocin analysis laboratory costs


Dec 2015

Fonds des Donations,
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland

PhD project:
travel and lodging field season 2

~ 3’750 USD

Apr 2007

A.H. Schultz-Stiftung,
Zurich, Switzerland

MSc project:
travel field season

~ 1’535 USD


Chimpanzees Kalema and Klauce


Corinne Ackermann

Assistante doctorante




+41 32 718 24 79

+41 32 718 24 67


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

room B027 (Bâtiment G)


CA urine collection.JPG