Miguel Gareta Garcia


Domaines de recherche

Research on the social behaviour of vervet monkeys has encompassed many different topics during the last decades. My interest is focussed on the social interactions that take place through grooming in between individuals of the same populations. During my first two years of field work I would like to conduct a series of experiments, all connected to grooming interactions in one way or another: activity budgets and social network (centrality, degree) shifting under artificial feeding conditions, boxes experiment to study how grooming might be traded for tolerance under different time frames, urine collection to investigate the role of bond and kinship in the levels of oxytocin after grooming interactions.

For the study of time budgets I will set up an experiment that is carried out on adult females (one dominant, one subordinate). During the experiment phase I will feed each individual two times a day during two weeks, and with the information collected I would like to analyse the changes in the time budget of the different subjects according to their position in the hierarchy. I would also like to assess some social network parameters of the fed individuals

I would also like to develop some experiments following the work done during the previous years by Dr. Christèle Borgeaud. For that I would make use of boxes and train specific individuals to unique coloured boxes in order to expose selectively some individuals to a relatively stressful situation (high quality food monopolisation). Having two individuals at their box simultaneously I will register the outcome of that situation (tolerance or conflict). The interest of that set up is to show the boxes to particular individuals after the follow up of grooming episodes and investigate how strong the grooming effect can be. Furthermore, I would like to incorporate the concept of time frames to the assessment of grooming for tolerance in these grooming for tolerance transactions.

In this experiment I am interested in assessing how the Biological Market Theory adapts to my experiment with the peculiarity of having different time frames for the exchange of services (grooming for food tolerance. Thus I would like to test different individuals’ reactions to the presence of others after the happening of the same social interaction after different time frames.

Moreover, I will collect urine samples after grooming interactions with differently bonded individuals, emulating the studies done by Crockford et al. (2014) on chimpanzees. This experiment will be conducted in two different populations that are already familiar to the urine-stick devise that is used for that purpose.

For the development of these and other projects that may arise in the forthcoming years I count with the assistance of  Prof. Redouan Bshary, and different students that participate in the Inkawu Vervet Project  in South Africa, where we have our field site, Mawana game reserve in Kwatzulu-Natal.


Miguel Gareta Garcia

Assistant doctorant



+41 32 718 31 31

+41 32 718 31 24

Bureau D126