Julia Fischer How Is Kinship a Factor for Social Relations of Male Guinea Baboons?

Julia Fischer is Professor of Cognitive Ethology at the German Primate Center and the University of Göttingen as well as an author and editor, with cognition and social behavior as one of her major research interests. She habilitated at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and was awarded the Heisenberg fellowship from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Fischer is a member of the Göttingen as well as the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and Humanities and received the Grüter-Preis für Wissenschaftsvermittlung in 2013.

Area of Research

Cognition and Social Behavior, Evolution of Communication

Tabitha Price, Philip Wadewitz, Dorothy L. Cheney, Robert M. Seyfarth, Kurt Hammerschmidt and Julia Fischer. "Vervets Revisited: A Quantitative Analysis of Alarm Call Structure and Context Specificity." Scientific Reports 5 (2015): 13220.  
Brandon C. Wheeler and Julia Fischer. "Functionally Referential Signals: A Promising Paradigm Whose Time Has Passed." Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 21 (2012): 195-205.  
Vanessa Schmitt and Julia Fischer. "Representational Format Determines Numerical Competence in Monkeys." Nature Communications 2 (2011): 257.  
Juliane Kaminski, Josep Call and Julia Fischer. "Word Learning in a Domestic Dog: Evidence for 'Fast Mapping'." Science 304 (2004): 1682-1683.  

since 2004

Professor of Primate Cognition

University of Göttingen (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

and the German Primate Center


Postdoctoral Fellow

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology



Leipzig University (Universität Leipzig)

Thesis "Evolution of Vocal Communication in Primates”


PhD in Biology

Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin)

Thesis "Categorical Perception of Species-Specific Sounds in Barbary Macaques”


Diploma in Biology

Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin)

- American Anthropologist

- American Journal of Primatology

- Science

- Behaviour

- Biochemistry and Behaviour

- Biology Letters

- Current Biology

- Ethology

- Folia Primatologica

- Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

- Journal of Comparative Psychology

- Journal of Experimental Biology

- Pharmacology


- Proceedings of the Royal Society-B

- Trends in Cognitive Science

- Trends in Neuroscience

- Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

- Deutsche Primatologische Gesellschaft

- Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft

- Ethologische Gesellschaft

- European Federation of Primatology

- Internationale Primatologische Gesellschaft


- Member of Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (since 2014)

- Member of the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (since 2007)

- DFG Heisenberg Fellow (2004)

- Fellow of Die Junge Akademie (2003-2008), President (2007-2008)

- Leibniz Science Campus for Primate Cognition; Leibniz Association (2015-2018)

- Social Comparison Processes in Animals; as part of DFG Forschergruppe FOR2150 (2015-2017)

- Graduate School “Foundations of Primate Social Behaviour”, funded by Leibniz Gemeinschaft (2011-2014)

- Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (2010-2015)

- Co-PI Courant Center for the Evolution of Social Behaviour (2007-2014)

© Michael Moser

German Primate Center

The Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen was founded in 1977. It is a non-university research institute and member of the Leibniz Association.The DPZ conducts biological and biomedical basic research with and about non-human primates in the fields of infectious diseases, neuroscience, and primate biology. As a center for expertise and reference in all issues related to primate research and husbandry, the DPZ breeds monkeys for its own research purposes and lends support to other publicly funded scientific institutes. The DPZ operates four field stations in the tropics. The DPZ is actively involved in numerous national and international research collaborations and is engaged in scientific communication and policy advice. (Source: DPZ)


Cognitive Ethology Laboratory

"Our research group "Cognitive Ethology" is based at the German Primate Center in Goettingen, Germany, and linked to the University of Goettingen. We study cognition and communication from an evolutionary and ecological perspective, primarily in nonhuman primates. We focus on three aspects: firstly, we are interested in the information content of vocal signals and the decoding of this information; secondly, we study the development of cognitive and communicative abilities, both from an ontogenetic and a phylogenetic perspective. Third, we investigate how social system, ecology, and phylogenetic descent shape the structure of signaling systems. The ultimate goal of our research program is to contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of language." (Source)


By combining behavioral observations with GPS data on the whereabouts and data on genetic relatedness of males of a Guinea baboon population, the study presented in this video provides new insights into their social structure: The species forms structured multi-level societies. Male Guinea baboons are found to be exceptional in terms of their spatial tolerance and their organizing principle, JULIA FISCHER explains. As opposed to other male non-humane primates, relatedness is not the sole determinant of association, allowing cooperation beyond kinship.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10153

Male Tolerance and Male-Male Bonds in a Multilevel Primate Society

  • Annika Patzelt, Gisela H. Kopp, Ibrahima Ndao, Urs Kalbitzer, Dietmar Zinner and Julia Fischer
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
  • Published in 2014
Annika Patzelt, Gisela H. Kopp, Ibrahima Ndao, Urs Kalbitzer, Dietmar Zinner and Julia Fischer. "Male Tolerance and Male-Male Bonds in a Multilevel Primate Society." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 111, 41 (2014): 14740-14745.