Jonas Verspeek


  • Primatology
  • Animal behaviour/ethology
  • Cooperation among bonobos


As doctoral student with the Behavioural Ecology and Ecophysiology (BECO) research group at the University of Antwerp and at the Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC) at Antwerp ZOO and Planckendael ZOO, I am researching how bonobos cooperate.


In my research I am interested in cooperation between bonobos, more specifically in two basic aspects of cooperation namely: Inequity Aversion, the reaction to the occurrence of an unfair situation, and Prosociality, the willingness to give something to another without benefiting from such themselves. These two elements are essential to good cooperation. Although both aspects have been researched both in humans and several species of animals, very little is known about how well bonobos, one of the two species most closely related to us, score on inequity-aversion and prosociality tests. For the first time, with this study, I aim to set the same group of individuals tests to examine both these aspects of cooperation. Combining the results of these tests will give us a better understanding of how bonobos cooperate.


Animals have fascinated me ever since I was a child. That was the reason that, having first observed my own pets at home, I choose to study biology at the University of Antwerp. During my degree programme I worked on several projects, which included calculating the lifting strengths of stag beetles fighting and examining the shell preferences of hermit crabs. For my Master's thesis project I explored how bonobo personalities influence relationships between bonobos. As research assistant, I subsequently assisted the day-to-day training of the bonobos at Planckendael ZOO and I began by research into food preferences in bonobos.

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