Stephanie Alexandra Fox
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew Mexico, Albuquerque, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9815
Approve DateApril 30, 2019
Project TitleFox, Stephanie (New Mexico, Albuquerque, U. of) "Social tolerance and the function of differentiated relationships among wild female chimpanzees"
STEPHANIE FOX, then a graduate student at University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was awarded a grant in April 2019 to aid research on ‘Social Tolerance and the Function of Differentiated Relationships among Wild Female Chimpanzees,’ supervised by Dr. Melissa Thompson. It is widely recognized that stable social bonds between non-kin are a hallmark of human behavior, yet models that attempt to reconstruct the evolution of female social relationships in humans and non-human primates have largely focused on relationships between kin or sex differences in behavior. This project sought to investigate whether social and ecological factors constrain the formation of strong social bonds among female chimpanzees and determine whether social bonds can confer benefits to females. Although female chimpanzees rarely engage in overt social behaviors, such as grooming, the study focused on measuring social tolerance, an underutilized measure of dyadic relationship quality that might confer benefits. Its aim was to investigate two constraints on social relationships (male aggression and energetic constraints) and three benefits (coalition formation, offspring socialization, and mediation of social stress). Funding allowed the grantee to collect one year of matched behavioral and hormonal data on adult female chimpanzees in the Kanyawara community (Kibale National Park, Uganda) as well as to study long term data collected by the Kibale Chimpanzee Project. Ultimately, this study aims to help understanding differences in the evolution of female social behavior between humans, chimpanzees and bonobos.