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 50 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

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Key Factors Influencing Primate Social Behavior

  • Behavior
  • Physiology
  • Development
  • Hard Tissue
  • Health
  • Nutritional Ecology


Select Publications

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Katherine Auwerswald

Undergraduate Student

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Giuliana Centofanti

Undergraduate Student

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Julitette Ghaffari

Undergraduate Student

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Yasmin-Del-Carmen Marcia

Undergraduate Student

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Xena Portillo

Undergraduate Student







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

In addition, none of our work would be possible without the assistance of our talented Gombe field assistants.


Affiliated Lab Members

  • Sean Lee, Postdoctoral Scientist, The George Washington University
  • Robert O'Malley, Senior Program Associate, American Assocaition for the Advancement of Science
  • Maggie Stanton, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology, Franklin & Marshall College
  • Kaitlin Wellens, Postdoctoral fellow, Trinity Washington University


Former Lab Members

  • Victoria Fiorentino, Masters in Public Health Gradut Student, University of Minnesota
  • Helen Gaynor, Lwad Education and Outreach,
  • Anna Heffernan, Research Analyst, The Brattle Group
  • A. Catherine Markham, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Stony Brook University
  • Jordan Miller, Entrepreneur
  • Aisha Mustapha, Medical Student, Case Western Reserve University of School of Medicine
  • Jennifer Nichols, Animal Care Professional, Birmingham Zoo
  • Eva Schwartz, Behavioral Therapist, Multicultral Clinical Center
  • Rachel Sinsheimer, J.D. Candidate in Envrionmental Law, University of Washington School of Law
  • Jack Winans, Doctoral Student in Anthropology, Stony Brook University