Dr Kimberley Hockings
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science
Stella Turk Building B051-011
University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE
Office hours: Wednesdays 9-10am Fridays 3-4pm
An adult male chimpanzee foraging on human crops in front of onlooking villagers at Bossou in Guinea.
The main objective of my research is to elucidate the underlying mechanisms that allow human-wildlife coexistence. I have a particular interest in the drivers of resource competition and aggressive interactions between human and nonhuman great apes in shared landscapes. Comprehensively examining bi-directional interactions requires an understanding of the ways in which animals flexibly modify their behaviour in response to the costs and benefits of anthropogenic habitats, and how local people perceive and respond to sympatric wildlife. To do this effectively demands a cross-disciplinary skills base, and my research increasingly combines biological, ecological, and social science approaches. A goal of my research is to work with different stakeholders to generate locally appropriate and culturally sensitive solutions to conservation dilemmas.
I conduct fieldwork in West Africa, including research on wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Bossou in Guinea, and various primate species including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys (Piliocolobus temminckii) at Cantanhez and Dulombi National Parks in Guinea-Bissau. I supervise students working on human-great ape interactions across Africa, and have supervised dissertations on various aspects of wildlife behaviour and conservation across Africa, Asia, and the Neotropics. I am a member of the great ape section of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and the Conservation Working Party of the Primate Society of Great Britain.
Broad research specialisms:
Human-wildlife interactions and conservation conflicts
Great ape behaviour, ecology, and cognition
2007 Ph.D. in Evolutionary Psychology, University of Stirling, UK
2002 B.Sc .(Hon.) in Zoology, University of Liverpool, UK
2018-onwards Lecturer in Biosciences, University of Exeter, UK
2015-2018 University Research Fellow (FCT), Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA-FCSH/NOVA), Portugal
2013-2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Oxford Brookes University, UK
2010 Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Kyoto University, Japan
2008-2012 Postdoctoral Research Fellow (FCT), New University of Lisbon, Portugal
Research group links
Kimberley collecting behavioural data on the critically endangered western chimpanzee
Members of the research team setting up cameratraps to monitor wildlife at Cantanhez NP, Guinea-Bissau
Continued engagement with stakeholders increases awareness of biodiversity conservation, which must include the needs and opinions of local people
My interests in Animal Behaviour and Conservation Biology are broad, and I am currently conducting research in four diverse, but interlinked, areas: (1) human-wildlife interactions and applied animal conservation, (2) primate behavioural flexibility and cognition in anthropogenic habitats, (3) great ape tool-use and material culture, and (4) wildlife use of ethanol.
In my approach to studying theoretical and applied aspects of human-wildlife interactions, I combine social science methods with an understanding of how animals perceive, and respond to, anthropogenic environments at a local- and landscape-level. I conduct research on resource competition (crops, wild foods, space) between sympatric humans and chimpanzees across equatorial Africa, and examine the circumstances surrounding attacks by wild chimpanzees on local persons. I am interested in the influence of anthropogenic factors on wildlife presence and distribution in human-impacted landscapes, and how human perceptions about wildlife impact tolerance levels towards sympatric and sometimes problematic species. A goal of my research is to work with different stakeholders to build capacity and generate locally appropriate and transparent solutions for biodiversity conservation in an effort to reduce conservation conflicts.
Primate behavioural flexibility in anthropogenic habitats
I am interested in the physical, behavioural, and cognitive characteristics of primates and other wildlife that allow them to persist in proximity to people. I am particularly passionate about exploring the ways in which primate responses to fast-changing anthropogenic landscapes, with shrinking forested areas and more mosaic habitats, provide a contemporary situation for understanding evolutionary aspects of their cognition and flexibility. I am also keen to consider ways in which understanding animal behaviour and cognition in the wild can assist in conservation efforts, for example, through increasing animal perception of risk when exploiting human parts of the environment such as roads and plantations.
Great ape tool-use and material culture
Knowledge about nonhuman great ape behaviour, cognitive capacities, and technology is important to shed light on human behaviour, our evolutionary history, and on the evolutionary origins of the earliest human technology. In collaboration with colleagues from Oxford, we are currently exploring the tool-use repertoire and ecological drivers of technological and behavioural variation of chimpanzee populations in forest and savanna habitats in Guinea-Bissau. As these sites are impacted by humans in different ways, I am particularly interested in how great ape material culture is changing in response to human presence and activities.
Wildlife use of ethanol
Ethanol is naturally consumed by a variety of taxa, from invertebrates to vertebrates, including mammals. I am interested in the evolutionary origins of ethanol consumption in humans, and although there are numerous anecdotes about wild primates ingesting ethanol, almost all remain non-validated. In collaboration with colleagues from the USA, we combine paleogenetics and ecological research to test hypotheses about the evolutionary origins of primate ethanol consumption through resurrecting key components of the ethanol metabolizing pathway in our distant ancestors, and applying scientific rigor to investigate the ethanol content of food in primate habitat and the consumption patterns of these foods.
Member: The Bossou and Nimba International Research Team, Guinea & Japan http://www.greencorridor.info/index.html
Member: The Centre for Research in Anthropology, Portugal
Member: The Paleo-Primate Project, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
International Collaborator: The Leading Graduate Program in Primatology and Wildlife Science, Kyoto University, Japan
International Collaborator: The Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas (IBAP), Guinea-Bissau
Dr Dora Biro: http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/people/view/biro_d.htm
Dr Matthew Carrigan: http://ffame.org/mcarrigan.php
Dr Susana Carvalho: https://www.icea.ox.ac.uk/people/dr-susana-carvalho#tab-1-2
Prof Amélia Frazão Moreira: http://www.fcsh.unl.pt/faculdade/docentes/maf
Prof Catherine Hill: http://www.brookes.ac.uk/social-sciences/staff-and-students/academic-staff/?wid=academic-staff&op=full&uid=p0072741
Prof Tetsuro Matsuzawa: http://www.matsuzawa.kyoto/cv/en/
Dr Matthew McLennan: https://www.brookes.ac.uk/social-sciences/staff-and-students/academic-staff/?wid=academic-staff&op=full&uid=p0026444
2019-2022 Darwin Initiative grant for “Promoting public health in a biodiverse agroforest landscape in Guinea-Bissau”, Principal Investigator – £325,043.
2019-2023 NERC GW4+ PhD studentship (Apes on the edge: assessing human impacts on the health and socioecology of critically-endangered western chimpanzees).
2018 Halpin Trust for “Great Ape Health in Cantanhez National Park, Guinea-Bissau”, Principal Investigator – £39,208.
2018 British Academy Conference Grant (with Robin Dunbar) for “Alcohol and Humans: A Long and Social Affair”.
2016-2018 ARCUS great ape conservation grant for “Promoting Chimpanzee Conservation in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa” – US$50,000.
2015-2017 Mohammed Bin Zayed Conservation Fund (with Hellen Bersacola) for “Seeking people-primate coexistence: Endangered primate responses to anthropogenic activities and land transformation in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa” – US$12,000.
2015 Fundaçao de Ciencia e Technologia (FCT) Research grant “Landscapes of risk: a cross-disciplinary approach to examine the sustainability of human-chimpanzee coexistence”, Principal Investigator – €49,950
2015-2016 FCT Research grant “Chimpanzee tool-use in Guinea-Bissau and behavioural complexity”, Principal Investigator – €49,873
2012-2014 FCT Research grant “Where humans and chimpanzees meet: assessing sympatry throughout Africa using a multi-tiered approach”, Principal Investigator – €110,000
2013, 2016 Santander Internationalisation Award for Scientific Production
2010 Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, Japan. Research Fellowship – US$2500
2009 Conservation International, USA. Research grant - US$4500
2004 International Team for Bossou-Nimba Research, Kyoto University, Japan: MEXT and JSPS-Hope, Japan, awarded by T Matsuzawa for fieldwork costs – £15000.
2003-2007 University of Stirling, UK. Full PhD studentship
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
In collaboration with Portuguese colleagues and the Institute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas in Guinea-Bissau, I coordinate research activities on nonhuman primates at Caiquene-Cadique and other sites in Cantanhez National Park, Guinea-Bissau. I am a member of the great ape section and the human-primate interaction group of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, and the Conservation Working Party of the Primate Society of Great Britain. I am part of the working group to update the Western Chimpanzee Regional Action Plan and a representative for Guinea-Bissau. I chair the committee for the Claudia Sousa Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Portuguese Primatology established by the Bossou and Nimba International Research Team.
Conferences and invited presentations
Selected Refereed Presentations at Scientific Meetings:
2019 Developing an evidence-based conservation strategy for Cantanhez National park, Guinea-Bissau. Invited paper presented at the Congress of the European Federation for Primatology/Primate Society of Great Britain, Oxford, UK, September.
2017 Primate behavioural flexibility in the Anthropocene. Invited paper presented at the VII Congress of the European Federation for Primatology, Strasbourg, France, August.
2017 Wild chimpanzees use tools to drink ethanol. Invited paper presented at the American Association for Physical Anthropology, New Orleans, USA, April.
2015 Apes in the Anthropocene: short-term flexibility & long-term survival. Paper presented at the VI Congress of the European Federation for Primatology, Rome, Italy, August.
2015 The chimpanzees of Caiquene-Cadique, Guinea-Bissau: feeding behaviour & resource competition with local people. Paper presented at the IV International Symposium on Primatology & Wildlife Science, Kyoto, Japan, July.
2014 Cocoa-spread by wild chimpanzees: do chimpanzees cultivate their own gardens? Invited paper presented at the XXV Congress of the International Primatological Society, Vietnam, August.
2013 Cultivar feeding by chimpanzees: community variation to conflict mitigation. Paper presented at the V Congress of the European Federation for Primatology, Antwerp, Belgium, April.
2011 Differential utilisation of cashew by sympatric humans and chimpanzees. Paper presented at the IV Congress of the European Federation for Primatology, Almada, Portugal, September
2010 Fission-fusion dynamics in chimpanzees at Bossou: ecological constraints in an anthropogenic environment. Paper presented at the XXIII Congress of the International Primatological Society, Kyoto, Japan, September.
2009 Living at the interface: human-chimpanzee competition, coexistence and conflict in Africa. Paper presented at the Congress of Portuguese Anthropology Association, Lisbon, Portugal, September.
2008 Human-chimpanzee competition and coexistence at Bossou, Republic of Guinea: A synthesis of ecological and behavioural perspectives. Paper presented at the XXII Congress of the International Primatological Society, Edinburgh, Scotland, August.
2007 Chimpanzees share the forbidden fruit. Invited paper presented in the Primate Society of Great Britain conference, Durham, England, April.
Selected Recent Invited Talks:
2019 University of Exeter alumni event ‘Rainforests’. Royal Society, London
2015 Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Roehampton, UK
2014 JSPS Core-to-Core Program Symposium “Ecology & Conservation of Great Ape Populations”, Uganda
2014 Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Institute, Germany.
2014 Department of Archaeology and Anthropology (Bio Anth seminar series), University of Cambridge, UK.
2014 Wildlife Research Centre, Kyoto University, Japan
2014 Department of Social Sciences (Primate Conservation seminar series), Oxford Brookes University, UK.
2014 Biological Anthropology, School of Anthropology & Conservation, University of Kent, UK.
2013 Anthropological Institute & Museum, University of Zurich, Switzerland.
Conference, Symposium, and Workshop organisation:
2018 Conference co-organiser: “Humans and alcohol: A long and social affair”, British Academy, London.
2017 Summer-school co-organiser: “Primate socio-ecology and primate conservation”, Lisbon
2016 Workshop organiser: “Working with local people for the conservation of chimpanzees in Guinea-Bissau”, Cantanhez National Park and Bissau
2015 Conference co-organiser: “Chimpanzees, People & Nature: The Legacy of Claudia Sousa”, Lisbon
2015 Symposium co-organiser: “Behavioural flexibility by primates in anthropogenic habitats”, VI European Federation for Primatology, Rome
2014 Workshop organiser: “Chimpanzee Conservation in Guinea-Bissau”, Lisbon
2011 Conference co-organiser: IV European Federation for Primatology, Portugal
2010 Symposium co-organiser: “How nonhuman great apes respond to anthropogenic contexts”, XXIII Congress of the International Primatological Society, Japan
2010 Conference co-organiser: HOPE-GM Primate Mind and Society, Japan
Reviewer (up to present):
Grant bodies: ARCUS Foundation; Leakey Foundation; Marie Curie; National Geographic; Primate Conservation Inc.; Primate Society of Great Britain: Conservation Working Party; Rufford Grants for Nature Conservation
Journals: African Journal of Ecology; American Journal of Physical Anthropology; American Journal of Primatology; Animal Cognition; Behaviour; Behavioural Ecology; Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology; Biological Conservation; Critique of Anthropology; Environmental Management; Folia Primatologica; GECCO; Human Ethology Bulletin; International Journal of Primatology; Journal of Applied Ecology; Oryx; PLoS ONE; Primates; Scientific Reports; Society and Natural Resources; Tropical Conservation Science.
Supervision / Group
- Olivia Bell MSci (co-supervised with H Morrogh-Bernard) 2019 – "Orangutan vocalisations".
- Elena Bersacola PhD (co-supervised with CM Hill and V Nijman, Oxford Brookes University) 2016 – ongoing - "Seeking human-wildlife coexistence: primate community response to anthropogenic activities and land transformation in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa"
- Joana Bessa PhD (co-supervised with D Biro, Oxford University) 2016 - ongoing. “Chimpanzee material culture in Cantanhez and Dulombi National Parks, Guinea-Bissau”
- Cameron Goodhead MbyRes (co-supervised with H Morrogh-Bernard) 2019 – ongoing Evaluating the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs/drones) for surveying Bornean orangutan populations.
- Aimee Oxley PhD completed (supervision with C Hill, M McLennan, Oxford Brookes University). 2014 – 2019. "Living in the matrix: Investigating the effects of human encroachment on the socioecological adaptations of chimpanzees in a forest-farm mosaic, Uganda."
- Tanya Payne MbyRes (co-supervised with T Minhos and M Cant, Oxford Brookes University) 2018 – ongoing "Human-wildlife coexistence at Gola Rainforest National Park, Sierra Leone"