Post-doctoral Position with Gorillas (France) ~

1 de febrero de 2013

Post-doctoral Position with Gorillas (France)

National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France, in the context of
the LabEx BCDiv, Biological and Cultural Diversities: Origins,
Evolution, Interactions, Future

Post-doctoral Topic :
Food and technical choices of food manipulation among the western
gorillas: knowledge acquisition by adaptive mechanisms or traditions ?

Laboratories (Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle) :
Main laboratory: UMR 7179, Mécanismes adaptatifs : des organismes aux
Other: UMR7206, Eco-Anthropologie et Ethnobiologie

Supervision: Emmanuelle Pouydebat & Françoise Aubaile-Sallenave

Duration of the contract: 12 mois / 12 months

Scientific description
Great diet flexibility and manipulation abilities allow primates to be
more resilient than many other animals to fluctuations in climate and
food availability. Primate food choice is complex and depends on
different factors such as the nutritional quality of the available
food, and the nutritional needs and health status of the individuals.
Moreover, in great apes cultural differences seem to explain part of
the feeding variation, but this is still debated as many consider
culture to be a uniquely a human trait. Particularly, feeding
techniques, which vary across different populations of chimpanzees and
orang-utans, have been defined as cultural traits similarly to human
societies who live in the same environment and have the same tools but
show different cultural choices. Whether feeding traditions and
culture exist in all species of great apes and how they are
transmitted between generations is still an open question. Little is
known on the elusive and endangered western gorillas. Yet, they appear
to rely on different learning mechanisms in relation to the use of
toxic plants in comparison to wild chimpanzees. The proposed research
will shed light on feeding traditions and functional capacities of
western gorillas at different levels: inter-species, inter-groups,
inter and intra-individuals. This research aims at investigating: 1)
the existence of 'cultural' traditions in gorilla food choice that are
independent from food availability, 2) if the intra and inter-specific
differences (in comparison to existing data on other primates,
including humans) in food processing and manipulation techniques
(including manual preferences) are linked to feeding traditions and/or
morphological variability respectively, and 3) the behavioural
mechanisms involved in the transmission of feeding information (food
choice and processing) during learning. The candidate is expected to
have previous field experience (preferably with gorillas) and will be
working under natural conditions in West Africa.

Contacts :
Dr Emmanuelle Pouydebat, MNHN, UMR 7179, Mécanismes adaptatifs : des
organismes aux communautés. Département d'écologie et de gestion de la
biodiversité, Pavillon d'anatomie comparée, 55 rue Buffon, CP 55,
75231 Paris. Phone:  +33 (0) 1 40 79 81 19

Dr Françoise Aubaile-Sallenave, MNHN, UMR 7206, Eco-Anthropologie et
ethnobiologie. Department Hommes Natures Sociétés, CP 135, 57 rue
Cuvier, 75005 Paris, France. Phone :  +33 (0) 1 40 79 53 37

CV and motivation letter must be sent to AND before the 25 February 2013.

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