Group Presentation

In studying primate cognition our group special focus has been on personality from ontogenetic and evolutionary perspectives. The topic of personality has shown an exponential increase of interest in biology in general, and primatology is the area at the growing edge of its study. Despite this interest, much work is yet to be done to articulate a comprehensive view of personality evolution through the primates’ phylogeny. Furthermore, no consensus yet exists with respect to the models of personality ontogeny that primatologists assume as foundations of their work.

Our research focuses on a bottom-up approach which starts from the typical behaviors of each species (species ethogram). We hope to contribute to a comprehensive theory, in which ontogenetic and evolutionary aspects at behavioral, social and brain levels are integrated.

We consider personality to be a dynamic structure that evolves throughout the phylogeny of primates. We are particularly interested in integrating knowledge and interests regarding personality, including the different ontogenetic factors involved (attachment process, epigenetic factors, social hierarchy, cognitive abilities, etc.), as well as in work comparing primates of different species. Our current in-progress project has collected data from different species of the order of Primates. Observations were conducted in Lagos’ Zoo (Algarve), in Badoca Safari Park (Alentejo), and in Maia’s Zoo (Porto). The species include two strepsirrhine - red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) and ring tail lemur (Lemur catta); several haplorrhine, both platirrhine, anthropoids from the new world - capuchin monkeys (Sapjus apella) and saimiris (Saimiri boliviensis); and catarrhine - anthropoids from the old world - white hand gibbons (Hylobates lar) and mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx).

Our Mission

Our mission is studying different aspects of primate cognition especially those that seem most relevant to personality function and ontogeny. Our research has both theoretical and practical goals. We aim to present, for the very first time, data concerning personality in several species distributed through the Primate order, reflecting species’ evolution. We will be able to present data about personality in different individuals and comparative data from different species. These data will open possibilities for future exploration of personality phylogeny and ontogeny. A more practical goal is to contribute to captive husbandry and management of primates, by introducing individualized plans for captive animals that will have the potential to significantly impact individual welfare.

Scientific work

Costa, R., Sousa, C. and Llorente, M. (2018). Assessment of environmental enrichment for different primate species under low budget: A case study. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 21(2):185-199.

Brandão, A., Costa, R., Rodrigues, E., Peixoto, L. and Vicente, L. “Personality in lemurs: A comparative study of ring-tail lemurs (Lemur catta) and red-ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra).” Presentation on Panel at the VIth Iberian Primatological Conference, 04-07/10/2017, Burgos, Spain.

Brandão, A., Costa, R., Rodrigues, E., and Vicente, L. “The Complex Personality of Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx).” Poster presentation at the VIth Iberian Primatological Conference, 04-07/10/2017, Burgos, Spain.

Brandão, A., Costa, R., Dias, S. and Vicente, L. “From behavior observation to pattern identification: Preliminary results for personality in capuchin monkeys.” Poster presented at the 5th International Symposium on Primatology and Wildlife Science, 3-6/03/2016, Kyoto Univesity, Japan.

Costa, R., Brandão, A. (2016). Preliminary results: analysis of “Urine wash” behavior in a captive group of capuchin monkeys. 6th International Symposium on Primatology and Wildlife Science and 5th CCT-Bio International Workshop on Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation, Kyoto, Japan.

Brandão, A., Rodrigues, D., Costa, R., Peixoto, L.,Vieira, W. and Vicente, L. “Primate Personality: Preliminary results of a comparative study.” Presentation on Panel at the Vth Iberian Primatological Conference, 17-20/11/2015, Évora, Portugal.

Brandão, A. “Primate Personality: On the Need for a New Perspective”, integrado na sessão “Emotional and Cognitive Behaviour in Primates”, Presentation to University of Lisbon Workshop on Behavior, Cognition and Evolution: From Non-Human Primates to Homo sapiens, 1-2/07/2014, Lisbon – Portugal.

Ready to Help?

As a new research team, we welcome young researchers, who are eager to join in what we see as an exciting, cutting-edge project. We are eager to learn from your own previous experiences and we prioritize functioning as a multidisciplinary team. We welcome everyone interested in developing theoretical reflections and collaborative research.