Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNottingham Trent U.
Grant numberGr. 10081
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleMcFarland, Richard (Nottingham Trent U., UK) "High-level social linkages in wild chacma baboons, South Africa"
In attempts to understand hominin social evolution, a major goal has been to identify the selective pressures that resulted in adaptations to the open and variable terrestrial habitats of the Plio-Pleistocene. We propose to study the behavioral response of chacma baboons to a novel ecology that mimics aspects of the selective environment thought to have produced the multilevel societies of hamadryas and early Homo. Specifically, we ask whether high predation pressure combined with limited sleeping site availability (i) represents the conditions required for the emergence of high-level social linkages, (ii) promotes coordinated inter-troop movements, and, (iii) drives a shift in internal socio-spatial dynamics linked to males. We will examine whether these unusual ecological pressures are sufficient to produce behavioral changes likely to be visible to natural selection, and drive the emergence of multilevel societies. The Papio baboons are acknowledged as excellent models for understanding the evolutionary processes acting during hominin evolution. Understanding the sources of variation among baboon populations can thus provide useful insights into the adaptations, evolutionary divergence, and diversity observed in the hominin lineage. To meet our objectives, we will collect a range of behavioral, spatial, and ecological survey data from two troops of wild chacma baboon.