I am a behavioural ecologist interested in the evolution of social and mating systems in mammals.

  • Research


    My work explores the social, reproductive and life history strategies of males and females in mammalian societies from an evolutionary perspective. I use observational and experimental data, mostly in the context of long-term, individually-based studies, but I also conduct broad comparative approaches on mammals. My research has broadly examined the sexual and social relationships between males and females. I currently focus on the evolution of reproductive seasonality, on sexual conflict and social hierarchies in mammalian societies, as well as on social influences on development in both sexes. With Drs Guy Cowlishaw (Institute of Zoology) and Alecia Carter (University College London), I co-direct the Tsaobis Baboon Project, a long-term study monitoring the ecology, demography and behaviour of a wild population of chacma baboons in the Namib desert since 2000.

  • Models

    I have worked in several natural populations of mammals displaying diverse social systems. Currently, my main models (see below) are the large promiscuous groups of mandrills from Bakoumba, Gabon (a.) and of the Tsaobis baboons from Namibia (b.). I have also worked on the nocturnal, solitary mouse lemurs from Kirindy, Madagascar (c.), and on the cooperative family groups of the Kalahari meerkats (d.)

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  • Projects & people

    Here is a quick overview of the projects of my current students, but there is always more going on with my own stuff and collaborations...

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    Ecology and evolution of sibling rivalry in primates

    Axelle Delaunay

    (co-supervised by M. Charpentier)


    Sibling competition has lasting consequences on offspring development, behaviour and fitness, but most studies have focused on competition between same-aged broodmates or littermates. Less is known on sibling competition in species which produce one offspring at a time, like humans. Axelle uses data from the Tsaobis Baboon Project and the Mandrillus Project to investigate the dynamics and consequences of sibling competition in baboons and mandrills.

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    The evolution of reproductive seasonality across mammals

    Lugdiwine Burtschell

    (co-supervised by B. Godelle)


    Reproductive seasonality has been assumed to reflect climatic seasonality for most species. But the life history and social system of a species may also play an important role in its breeding calendar. Lugdiwine's work investigates the relative influence of climate, life history and sociality on the evolution of reproductive seasonality using a theoretical (modelling) and comparative approach.


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    Sexual coercion and power asymmetries in mandrills

    Nikos Smit

    (co-supervised by M. Charpentier)


    Recent research suggests that sexual coercion may be widespread in mammals, contradicting traditional theories on female mate choice in such species. However, little is known on the ecology of coercion. Nikos' work asks if male mandrills (who were described as peaceful) sexually coerce females (who were described as choosy). He further investigates why and how individuals vary in their use of, and exposure to, sexual coercion.

  • Publications

    See my Google Scholar site for an up-to-date list

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    • Huchard E, Weill M, Cowlishaw G, Raymond M & Knapp LA. 2008. Polymorphism, haplotype composition, and selection in the Mhc-DRB of wild baboons, Immunogenetics 60: 585.
    • King AJ, Douglas C, Huchard E, Isaac N & Cowlishaw G. 2008. Dominance and affiliation mediate despotism in a social primate, Current Biology 18: 1833.



  • News

    We have long worked on a review on the ecology & evolution of male-female power relationships, gathering colleagues who are specialists from various species that have been important in the study of this question (bonobologist, hyenologist, lemurologist, and... me, the baboonologist - to represent...
    Our review on the links between animal ethics and behavioral sciences, inviting behavioral ecologists and ethologists to engage more actively with social debates on the moral standing of animals, has just been published in Bioscience. Have a look at the paper here and listen to Christine who...
    Three new PhD students are joining us this month - amazing! Welcome to them, and I hope this will make the lab lively, enriching and stimulating!
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