Top primate researchers swing into Lincoln for annual meeting

A macaque, which is a species of primateSome of the world’s leading primatologists will convene in Lincoln, UK, for the annual spring meeting of the Primate Society of Great Britain.

The University of Lincoln is hosting this event for the first time and will welcome around 60 researchers and students to its main Brayford Pool campus on 2nd and 3rd April 2013. The theme of the meeting is ‘Primates and Beyond: Comparative Socio-Ecology and Cognition’.

The PSGB’s spring meeting aims to bring together scientists and students working on different topics and different animal species. Traditionally, it has been assumed that non-human primates are closer to humans than any other species in their cognitive abilities and social structures. For this reason, primatology research has often been viewed as distinct from research into other animals, such as dogs, birds and dolphins.

However, recent studies, including work by academics from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences and School of Psychology, are starting to erode some of these distinctions.

Dr Bonaventura Majolo, Reader in Lincoln’s School of Psychology and an expert on the socio-ecology of primates, is one of the researchers leading this movement towards closer integration between disciplines. He is one of the organisers behind this year’s PSGB meeting.

Dr Majolo said: “It’s a tremendous privilege for the University of Lincoln to be hosting the annual spring meeting of the Primate Society of Great Britain.
“These are exciting times for researchers and students interested in the cognitive capacities of all animals. A great deal of progress has been made in recent years towards better understanding the role of convergent evolution and the fact that differences between species in their cognitive skills and social structure cannot simply be explained in terms of the shared evolutionary history these species have had. For example, some species with very different evolutionary history, ecology and anatomy –dolphins, elephants, some primates and bird species – share a similar social organisation. These species also have similar peace-making mechanisms or aspects of social cognition that they do not share with many of their more closely-related species.”

One of the keynote speakers at the conference will be Dr Anna Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln. Dr Wilkinson’s work is revealing new insights into the cognitive abilities of a variety of species, including pigeons and tortoises.

Other speakers include Professor Kevin Laland from the University of St Andrews and Professor Julia Ostner from Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Germany.

The Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB) is a UK learned society affiliated to the International Primatological Society and the European Federation for Primatology. It was founded in 1967 to promote research into all aspects of primate biology, conservation and management. The PSGB holds two scientific meetings a year, a winter meeting, usually held in London, and a spring meeting, held at different venues around the UK.

Story credits:

Ian Richards - PR OfficerIan Richards – PR Officer
Telephone: 01522 886