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 Google Scholar page.

Lab Researchers

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Monica Cheung

Masters Student

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Undergraduate Student

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Giuliana Centofanti

Undergraduate Student

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Juliette Ghaffari

Undergraduate Student

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Yasmin-Del-Carmen Marcia

Undergraduate Student

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Xena Portillo

Undergraduate Student









  • Dr. Ian Gilby, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Franklin & Marshall College
  • Dr. Shannon McFarlin, CASHP Hard Tissue Biology Laboratory
  • Dr. Michael Power, Nutrition Laboratory, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park
  • Dr. Anne Pusey, Jane Goodall Institute, Duke University
  • Dr. Rachel Santymire, Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology
  • Dr. Michael Wilson, University of Minnesota

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


Affiliated Lab Members

  • Dr. Sean Lee, Postdoctoral Scientist, The George Washington University


Former Lab Members

  • Victoria Fiorentino, Masters in Public Health Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
  • Helen Gaynor, Lead Education and Outreach,
  • Anna Heffernan, Research Analyst, The Brattle Group
  • Dr. A. Catherine Markham, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stony Brook University
  • Dr. Jordan Miller, Entrepreneur
  • Aisha Mustapha, Medical Student, Case Western Reserve University of School of Medicine
  • Jennifer Nichols, Animal Care Professional, Birmingham Zoo
  • Dr. Robert O'Malley, Senior Program Associate, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Eva Schwartz, Behavioral Therapist, Multicultural Clinical Center
  • Rachel Sinsheimer, J.D. Candidate in Environmental Law, University of Washington School of Law
  • 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