The Evolution of Social Flexibility
Investigating the adaptive origins and mechanistic underpinning of our flexible dispersal patterns
Social environments can dramatically affect health and survival in social mammals, including humans, but in many societies, individuals have the capacity to shape these social environments through their social decisions. Changing social groups has one of the greatest impacts on an individual’s social environment. Humans show particular social flexibility, frequently moving between groups of variable characteristics, sizes and compositions. Through this project, we are examining the origins of this social flexibility using one of our closest evolutionary relatives: the mountain gorilla, studying both how and why, humans’ unusually flexible dispersal patterns evolved.
This project is funded by an Ambizione Research Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation in collaboration with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
Collaborators: Prof Andrea Migliano, Dr Stacy Rosenbaum, Dr Winnie Eckardt, Dr Tara Stoinski
Exploring early adversity and later life outcomes in a close human relative
In humans and a variety of monkey species, early adversity is associated with poor health, shorter lifespans and a range of social changes in later life. However, the long-term consequences of early environments remain remarkably understudied in humans’ closest living relatives, the great apes. Through this ongoing project we are examining the social, reproductive, health and mortality consequences of early life adversity in mountain gorillas, with a goal to examine the potential mechanisms underlying gorillas' remarkable resiliency to the long-term consequences of early life adversity.
This project is funded by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Animal Models for the Social Dimensions of Health and Aging Research Network.
Collaborators: Dr Stacy Rosenbaum, Dr Tara Stoinski, Dr Winnie Eckardt, Dr Fernando Colchero
Morrison, RE., Ndayishimiye, E., Stoinski, T.S., Eckardt, W. (2023) Multiple mechanisms for inbreeding avoidance used simultaneously in a wild ape. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2023.1808
Morrison, RE., Ndayishimiye E., Stoinski TS., Eckardt W. (2023) Female age and reproductive stage influence copulation patterns in mountain gorillas’ variable mating system. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. doi.org/10.1007/s00265-023-03346-2
Morrison, RE., Eckardt W., Stoinski TS., Rosenbaum, S. (2023) Cumulative early-life adversity does not predict reduced adult longevity in wild gorillas. Current Biology . doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2023.04.051
Morrison, RE., Hirwa JP., Ndagijimana F., Vecellio V., Eckardt W., Stoinski TS. (2022) Cascading effects of social dynamics on the reproduction, survival, and population growth of mountain gorillas. Animal Conservation. doi.org/10.1111/acv.12830
Morrison, RE., Eckardt, W., Colchero, F., Vecellio, V., Stoinski, TS. (2021). Social groups buffer maternal loss in mountain gorillas. ELife. elifesciences.org/articles/62939
Morrison, RE., Mushimiyimana, Y., Stoinski, TS., Eckardt, WE. (2021). Rapid transmission of respiratory infections within but not between mountain gorilla groups. Scientific Reports.
Morrison, RE., Hirwa, JP., Mucyo, JPS., Stoinski, TS., Vecellio, V., Eckardt, W. (2020). Inter-group relationships influence territorial defence in mountain gorillas. Journal of Animal Ecology. doi.org//10.1111/1365-2656.13355
Morrison, RE., Eckardt, W., Stoinski, TS., Brent, LJN. (2020). Comparing measures of social complexity: larger mountain gorilla groups do not have a greater diversity of relationships. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1026
Morrison, RE., Dunn, J., Bermejo, M., Walsh, PD. (2020). Western gorilla space use suggests territoriality. Scientific Reports. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-60504-6
Morrison, RE., Groenenberg, M., Breuer, T., Manguette, M., Walsh, PD. (2019). Hierarchical Social Modularity in Gorillas. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0681