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The ScienceCampus Lecture Series

scientific presentation in the DPZ lecture hall. Photo: Alessio Anania

In the ScienceCampus Lecture series, international scientists present their research on current topics of behavior and cognition of human and non-human primates. The lectures usually take place on Thursdays at 16:15 in the Michael-Lankeit-Lecture Hall of the German Primate Center.

Due to restrictions in the course of the Covid19 pandemic, the lecture series is currently held online via Zoom. Since the guest speakers* are from different time zones, the lectures take place at different times of the day. Links to access the lectures are sent to all members of the ScienceCampus by email, but will not be made public for security reasons. Interested parties who are not automatically notified are welcome to sign up for our free notifications by sending an email.

Recordings of selected lectures can be found on our YouTube channel.



The programme in the winter term 2020/21

April 29, 2021, 15.00:

Manon K Schweinfurth (University of St. Andrews): The origins of reciprocal help

If only those behaviours evolve that increase the actor’s own survival and reproductive success, then it might come as a surprise that cooperative behaviours, e.g., helping by providing benefits to others, are a widespread phenomenon. Many animals cooperate even with unrelated individuals in various contexts, like providing care or food. One possibility to explain these behaviours is reciprocity. Reciprocal cooperation, i.e., helping those that were helpful before, is a ubiquitous and important trait of human sociality. Still, the evolutionary and psychological origins of it are largely unclear, mainly because it is believed that other animals do not exchange help reciprocally. Consequently, reciprocity is suggested to have evolved in the human lineage only. In contrast to this, I propose that reciprocity is not necessarily cognitively demanding and likely to be widespread. In my talk, I will first shed light on the mechanisms of reciprocal cooperation in Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus). In a series of studies, my colleagues and I have demonstrated that Norway rats reciprocally exchange goods and services between and within different commodities and independent of kinship. Furthermore, to understand the evolutionary origins of human reciprocity, and whether it is shared with other animals, I will then discuss evidence for reciprocity in non-human primates, which are our closest living relatives. A thorough analysis of the findings showed that reciprocity is present and, for example, not confined to unrelated individuals, but that the choice of commodities can impact the likelihood of reciprocation. Based on my findings, I conclude that reciprocal cooperation in non-human animals is present but largely neglected and not restricted to humans. In order to deepen our understanding of the origins of reciprocity in more general, future studies should investigate when and how reciprocity in non-human animals emerged and how it is maintained.


May 6, 2021, 15.00:

Ian Phillips (John Hopkins University): title tba



June 3, 2021, 15.00:

Lauren Robinson (University of Veterinary Science Vienna): title tba



July 1, 2021, 15.00:

Martin Schulte-Rüther (University Medical Center Göttingen): title tba


Dana Pefferle +49 551 3851-361 Contact Profile

James Stranks Contact Profile

Antonio Calapai

Antonio Calapai +49 551 3851-345 Contact Profile

previous lectures

Winter term 2020/21