• Gestural communication of wild bonobos

  • Joint attention in great apes and Sulawesi crested macaques

  • Gestural Origins, all of the great apes!

Kirsty E. Graham

I am a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, UK, working for Dr Cat Hobaiter on an ERC funded project comparing gestural communication across bonobos, chimpanzees, humans, gorillas, and orangutans. It’s going to be expanding on a lot of the questions in my PhD research, so I am very excited!!

I recently finished my first postdoc with Prof Katie Slocombe, looking at the development of Joint Attention across humans, chimpanzees, and Sulawesi crested macaques. We examined whether other primate species are able to share attention about objects in the same way that humans can, or whether they have some of the skills that might be required for this ability. I’ve conducted fieldwork at Tangkoko, Sulawesi, Indonesia, where I spent ~10 months with the crested macaques.

I completed my PhD at the University of St Andrews (view profile here) where my research topic was gestural communication of wild bonobos. Bonobos are closely related to chimpanzees, separated by ~0.8 million years of divergent evolution. Their social behaviour is somewhat different from that of chimpanzees, and I’m interested in how those behavioural differences translate into communicative differences. The Sulawesi crested macaques seem to share some similarities to the bonobo social structure, with multi-male multi-female groups, and a roughly egalitarian female hierarchy. I’ve spent a while with the macaques now and was struck by how much more active they are than bonobos! Always getting in each other’s business!

During my PhD, I conducted two 6-month study seasons at Wamba fieldsite in DRCongo. My second field season was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. I also conducted a short study at Kalinzu, Uganda, to do some comparative work with chimpanzees.

Before beginning my PhD, I worked as a field assistant at Wamba for the Max Planck Institute. Before that, I studied at Quest University Canada, graduating in 2012 and receiving a distinction for my Keystone project (thesis) on my research at Caño Palma Biological Station in Costa Rica.

Contact Me

School of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of St Andrews
St Mary’s Quad, South Street
St Andrews, KY16 9JP

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