Erik Willems

Erik Willems, Dr.

Senior Lecturer

Tel.: +41 44 635 54 01

Fax.: +41 44 635 68 04


Research Interests

- Within-group cooperation and between-group conflict
- Animal movement ecology
- Geographical variation in primate socio-ecology

As behavioural biologist with a background in spatial ecology, I am interested in the way in which animals use their environment over space and time, and how this shapes their (social) behaviour. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies I have, among others, looked into patterns of local space use, dispersal, bio- and phylo-geography, and geographical variation in orang-utan biology (from genes and ecology to culture). I also employ phylogenetic comparative methods, naturalistic observations and field-experiments to study cooperation and conflict in group-living, non-human primates in order to gain insights into the evolutionary origins of human warfare.

Research Projects

Inkawu Vervet Project (IVP)
The Orangutan Network
Development of R-library to analyse simultaneous movement data (with Dr. Kevin Buchin and Stef Sijben, MSc)


BIO 209: Discovering Statistics using R (together with Dr. Karin Isler, spring term, 6 ECTS points) Students are made familiar with fundamental statistical concepts, taking a hands-on approach using the R software environment. The importance of (visually) exploring data and assumptions receives a lot of attention before basic statistical tests are introduced, such as comparing means, correlation (logistic), regression and GLM analyses. In addition, theory and application of phylogenetic comparative methods are taught as well.

Students are strongly encouraged to use their own laptops during the course. In case this is not possible, please contact me at least one month in advance to ensure that a sufficient number of machines can be reserved from the UZH IT services.

Purchase of the book “Discovering Statistics using R”, by Field, Miles & Field is mandatory.


Zurich Open Repository and Archive