Michael L Wilson
I study the behavior and biology of chimpanzees because study of our closest living relatives provides many fascinating insights into the possible lives of our ancestors and provides a context for understanding ourselves today. My research focuses on intergroup relations. Long-term studies at sites across Africa have revealed that intergroup relations in chimpanzees are routinely hostile and sometimes violent. Such intergroup aggression provides a striking example of competition that depends on within-group cooperation, and has inspired numerous comparisons to primitive human warfare. Until recently, however, few data were available on this topic, and little had been done to test specific hypotheses. My goal as a researcher has been to fill this gap by obtaining quantitative, systematic data on intergroup aggression and other territorial behaviors, and to test hypotheses using field experiments and analysis of long-term data. My work focuses on data from Gombe National Park, Tanzania and Kibale National Park, Uganda.