Barbara Fruth

Reader in Primate Behaviour & Conservation

Office:  James Parsons Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool, L3 3AF

+44 0151 231 2147

LJMU Staff Webpage

Barbara Fruth

Research Interests

I am a behavioural ecologist and evolutionary anthropologist. Since 1990, I have been studying wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a species that has evolved striking peculiarities contrary to biological paradigms, as well as to its sister species, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Bonobos have a social organisation, with cooperation and bonding among females despite female exogamy; a remarkable mating behaviour, with a broad spectrum of sexual interactions including social sex; moderate aggression, with a resulting female dominated social structure; extensive food sharing of animals and plants; and a wondrous lack of material culture.

Apart from bonobo social behaviour, their ecological constraints and role within the ecosystem, I am specifically interested in their life history with focus on their health status as a direct measure of fitness. In this context, I am investigating the transition from plants and other items ingested as food to those used for medicinal purpose, requiring an interdisciplinary approach integrating the compilation of herbaria, analyses of plant’s phytochemical and pharmacological properties, and their effect on growth, health and fitness of individual bonobos.

Another focus is the relevance of the LuiKotale Bonobo project for conservation. Thanks to its remoteness, its proximity to Salonga National Park, a World Heritage Site of Nature, and its close collaboration with the local population, I develop strategies conserving habitat and species suitable as model for large scale protection.


LuiKotale Bonobo Project

Centre for Research and Conservation / Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp

Gottfried Hohmann

Bonobo Alive e.V.

The Cuvette Centrale as reservoir of medicinal plants

Current Research Projects

(1)          Quality and dynamics of bonobo social relationships

(2)          Bonobos’ role in the ecosystem

(3)          Health monitoring & Self medication

(4)          Genealogy and individual life histories

(5)          Faunal diversity

(6)          Hunting and sharing of both plant and animal food.

(7)          Human –animal interactions / human impact


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