Primate Behavioral Ecology

Baby Chimpanzee

In the GW Primate Behavioral Ecology Laboratory, scientists investigate the evolution of social behavior in the Pan species: chimpanzees and bonobos. Research poses one central question: Why be social? We explore this question through collaborative, on-the-ground research at the Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania. 

GW Associate Professor of Anthropology Carson Murray is one of the lead investigators of the Gombe Chimpanzee Research Project. The project allows our lab to combine new field data with over 60 years of long-term behavioral records. As the most extensive great ape dataset in the world, we can investigate social behavior across the chimpanzee lifespan and directly relate behavior to reproductive outcomes.


Research Interests

two chimpanzees sitting in a jungle
  • Social Behavior
  • Female Relationships
  • Maternal Effects
  • Spatial Ecology
  • Nutritional Ecology
  • Physiology


Select Publications

Lee, SM, Murray CM, Lonsdorf EV, Fruth B, Stanton MA, Nichols J, and G Hohmann. (2020) Wild bonobo and chimpanzee females exhibit broadly similar patterns of behavioral maturation but some evidence for divergence. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 171:1000109.

Stanton MA, Lonsdorf EV, Murray CM, and AE Pusey. (2020) Consequences of maternal loss before and after weaning in male and female wild chimpanzees. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 74:22.

Murray CM, Stanton MA, Wellens KR, Santymire RM, Heintz MR, and EV Lonsdorf. (2018) Maternal effects on offspring stress physiology in wild chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 80, e2258.

Murray CM, Stanton MA, Lonsdorf EV, Wroblewski EE, and AE Pusey. (2016) Chimpanzee fathers bias their behavior toward their offspring. Royal Society Open Science 3:160441.

Foerster S, Zhong Y, Pintea L, Murray CM, Wilson ML, Mjungu D, and AE Pusey. (2016) Feeding habitat quality and behavioral trade-offs in chimpanzees: a case for species distribution models. Behavioral Ecology, arw004.

For more publications visit Dr. Carson Murray's bio page on the Anthropology website.

Lab Researchers

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Hannah Furchak

Masters Student

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Libby Ware

Masters Student

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Hannah George

BS/MS Student

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Yair Ben-Dor

Undergraduate Student

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Aven Brown

Undergraduate Student

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Madigan Christensen

Undergraduate Student

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Lucia Kustra

Undergraduate Student





Gombe Chimpanzee Consortium

  • Dr. Ian Gilby, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Emory University, lab website
  • Dr. Anne Pusey, Jane Goodall Institute, Professor Emeritus Duke University
  • Dr. Michael Wilson, University of Minnesota

In addition, none of our work would be possible without our talented Gombe field researchers.



Former Lab Members

  • Katie Auerswald, GIS Technician 1, ASRC Federal
  • Giuliana Centofanti, PhD student, Emory University
  • Victoria Fiorentino, Data Analyst, Newport News Shipbuilding
  • Helen Gaynor, Director of Educational Programs,
  • Juliette Ghaffari, 7th grade science teacher, Washington Latin Public Charter School
  • Anna Heffernan, Senior Data Analyst, Uber
  • Dr. Sean Lee, Biostatistician, Office of Clinical Research, The George Washington University
  • Dr. Victoria Lockwood, Post Doctoral Researcher, Université de Poitiers
  • Dr. A. Catherine Markham, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stony Brook University
  • Dr. Jordan Miller, VP of Sales and Marketing, IdeaRoom
  • Dr. Aisha Mustapha, MD MPH, Cardiology Fellow, Emory University
  • Jennifer Nichols, Animal Care Professional, Birmingham Zoo
  • Dr. Sylvain Nyandwi, Tulane National Primate Research Center
  • Dr. Robert O'Malley, Public Engagement Associate, Harvard Medical School
  • Eva Schwartz, Behavioral Therapist, Multicultural Clinical Center
  • Rachel Sinsheimer, Attorney of Environmental Law, Corvid Law Group
  • Dr. Margaret Stanton, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of New England
  • Dr. Kaitlin Wellens, Assistant Professor of Biology, Trinity Washington University
  • Jack Winans, Doctoral Student in Anthropology, Stony Brook University