Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationBoston U.
Grant numberGr. 9425
Approve DateApril 18, 2017
Project TitleNegrey, Jacob D., Boston U., Boston, MA - To aid research on 'Social Bonds and Immune Function in Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),' supervised by Dr. Cheryl D. Knott
Preliminary abstract: This project explores the interaction of social bonds and health in our closest living evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). By combining behavioral observations with endocrinological, immunological, and molecular analyses, I will accomplish two goals. The first is to assess the effects of social bonds on physiological responses to stress (e.g., secretion of the neuropeptide oxytocin) and immune function (e.g., susceptibility to pathogenic infection) in hominoids. Chimpanzees are an excellent study species for these analyses given their (1) phylogenetic proximity to humans, (2) proclivity for social bonding, and (3) stressful social structure. My second goal is to determine which infectious agents of wild chimpanzees are pathogenic (i.e., cause disease). Although disease has long interested anthropologists and evolutionary biologists, only the most virulent pathogens of nonhuman primates have been adequately studied (or even identified). Notably, this study will contribute empirical evidence elucidating (1) the evolutionary pressures shaping primate social relationships, and (2) the physiological mechanisms by which social behavior influences immune function. Data collection is currently underway at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda, home to the largest wild chimpanzee community ever studied. Beginning July 2017, I will assay hormones and immune biomarkers in the laboratory of Dr. Tobias Deschner at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. Infectious agents will be sequenced by Dr. Tony Goldberg at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin, USA.