Warfare and cooperation: Interactions between groups in crested macaques
I am Laura Martinez Inigo, a PhD student in Psychology at the University of Lincoln (UK). The aim of my project is to investigate interactions between groups in the critically endangered crested black macaque (Macaca nigra) in Sulawesi (Indonesia). This species lives in stable social groups that can compete with one another for access to food, similarly to what happened in war-like interactions in human ancestors. Warfare is thought to be an important factor favouring altruism between group members in human evolution. Therefore, studying interactions between groups of monkeys can help us to understand human warfare and the evolution of human cooperation. The goal of this campaign is to raise funds to support the travel costs and documents for my research team (composed of two people plus me). Any contribution, no matter how little, is important. Thank you very much for your attention!
Who am I?
My name is Laura Martínez Íñigo and I am a PhD student in Psychology at the University of Lincoln (UK). I have a degree in Biology and a Master in Biodiversity Conservation and Management. On top of this, I have experience in field research with wild monkeys and apes thanks to my work as a field volunteer in projects on Barbary macaques (Morocco); Samango monkeys (South Africa) and bonobos (D.R.Congo).
What is my project?
My project aims to understand how groups of monkeys interact between them and how these interactions affect them. By doing so, we will obtain valuable information which may help us to understand why we engage in warfare and whether this pushed us to cooperate with each other.
Like us, most primates live in groups and these groups are not isolated, but surrounded by other groups. Groups compete for resources, commonly displacing each other whenever they meet. Groups who commonly displace their neighbours tend to have access to more resources, such as food, and to be able to raise more offspring. Thus, winning conflicts with neighbour groups has advantages. But, how to achieve this? One way in which group members can be successful against neighbour groups is by cooperating. The more members fight together against a neighbour group, the more likely their group is to win. So the question is: Do group members become more cooperative with one another when they need to fight against neighbour groups?
My aim is to investigate this question. To do this, I am going to study between group interactions and their consequences in a population of the critically endangered crested black macaque (Macaca nigra) in Sulawesi, Indonesia. This population has been studied for almost a decade by the Macaca Nigra Project (http://www.macaca-nigra.org/) and has a high rate of conflicts between groups. In addition, several of these groups have been habituated to the presence of researchers, so can be easily observed. These features make them ideal to address this subject.
Why does this project matter?
Humans are known for helping each other, for cooperating in ways not seen in any other species. However, at the same time, we are capable of the most despicable atrocities, such as wars. How can these two extremes coexist? Well, maybe one triggered the other.
One hypothesis is that our ancestors became better able to help each other and to cooperate with others during the course of human evolution because they were their allies in battles against other groups. In other words, we needed to stick together with members of our own group in order to fight for our own good when other groups threatened our wellbeing.
By studying conflicts between groups of primates, we can gain a better understanding of why we engage in wars and whether warfare made us more cooperative. This knowledge, in addition to shed light into human evolution, could potentially be applied in peace-making and in other competitive situations such as team sports.
What can your contribution make?
To carry out my project I need a research team of three people. Such a team would ensure that we collect enough data as to address my research questions. Your contribution will go to cover the travel costs and necessary documents for my team.
The costs to cover are:
International flight ticket to Jakarta: $2,000
National travel to Manado: $300
Permit to work in conservation areas:$2,000
Camp fees (Accommodation + Food): $3,600
RocketHub works in a “keep what I raise” mechanism, meaning that even if the goal is not reached, the contributions go to the project. Because of this, any small contribution will be of great help for the project. In exchange of your input, you will receive the some of the goods on the right of the screen depending on the amount you decide to contribute (In addition to our most sincere gratitude, of course). Note however, that most of the goods cannot be delivered until after the start of the field campaign, expected in July 2015. Thank you very much for your time!