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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Julia Kunz Indonesian rain forest


I am an evolutionary anthropologist with a background in (field) primatology and behavioural endocrinology. My work is interdisciplinary, as I do not only use different approaches within the area of evolutionary biology but strive for collaboration with social sciences. I see the exchange between different research fields as extremely enriching and the dialogue crucial to develop hypotheses and advance our understanding on the evolution of human nature. My research interests lie broadly in socio-ecology and sexual selection. Particularly, I aim to elucidate how male and female mating strategies interact and when their interests collide or align in both humans and nonhuman animals. I am particularly interested in comparative studies – not only across great apes, but mammals in general.

For the past 7 years, I have been studying wild Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. After a study on the ontogeny of play in immatures (MSc), I conducted my doctoral thesis on male-female relationships. Our interdisciplinary approach to better understand the frequent occurrence of sexual coercion in orangutans included behavioural ecology and endocrinology, and regular exchanges with the Gender Studies program.

With my current position at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the Mondika gorilla project, I am not only gaining insights into the social dynamics and ecology of other great apes – western lowland gorillas – but also into applied conservation, and how research and conservation work hand in hand.