Apes in the Anthropocene: Flexibility and survival

Kimberley J. Hockings, Matthew R. McLennan, Susana Carvalho, Marc Ancrenaz, René Bobe, Richard W. Byrne, Robin I.M. Dunbar, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, William C. McGrew, Elizabeth A. Williamson, Michael L. Wilson, Bernard Wood, Richard W. Wrangham, Catherine M. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


We are in a new epoch, the Anthropocene, and research into our closest living relatives, the great apes, must keep pace with the rate that our species is driving change. While a goal of many studies is to understand how great apes behave in natural contexts, the impact of human activities must increasingly be taken into account. This is both a challenge and an opportunity, which can importantly inform research in three diverse fields: cognition, human evolution, and conservation. No long-term great ape research site is wholly unaffected by human influence, but research at those that are especially affected by human activity is particularly important for ensuring that our great ape kin survive the Anthropocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Gail Campbell-Smith, Simon Husson, Andrew Marshall, Erik Meijaard, Maria von Noordwijk, Anne Russon, Carel van Schaik, Ian Singleton, and Stephanie Spehar for rating disturbance to orangutan habitat, and Romain Beville, David Greer, Josephine Head, Philipp Henschel, Fiona Maisels, Christopher Orbell, and Angelique Todd for rating disturbance to gorilla habitat. This work was supported by a research grant to K.J.H. from FCT, Portugal (PTDC/CS-ANT/121124/2010) and from MEXT, Japan (CCSN/PWS-U04).


  • Anthropogenic disturbance
  • Ape cognition
  • Behavioural flexibility
  • Great apes
  • Hominin coexistence
  • Human-wildlife interaction

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