Research in Primatology

ORCID Research Profile


Principal Investigator

Position: Professora Titular d’Universitat

mcolell (at)

Research team


Alvaro Lopez Caicoya

Early stage researcher


Jordi Galbany Casals

Assistant Professor


Mercedes Mayo Alesón

Assistant Professor

Contact details


Dr. Montserrat Colell Mimó

Department of Psicologia Clínica i Psicobiologia

Faculty of Psychology, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron 171

08035 Barcelona (Spain)

93 3125056

mcolell (at)

Research Interests


Our research goals are: a) to implement studies on behavior and cognition of several primate and ungulate species, b) to study behavioral ecology and adaptation in well-known wild primate populations, and c) to use the knowledge acquired in our studies to improve animal welfare and favor conservation of species in captivity (i.e. zoo) as well as in their natural habitat.
Key words: self-recognition, self-awareness, social information transmission, imitation, tool use and tool manufacture, causality, manual laterality, moral origins, social behavior, behavioral ecology, feeding ecology, tooth wear, field primatology, life history, rehabilitation, welfare, bushmeat, conservation in situ and ex situ.

Current Research Lines


  • Primate conservation, behavior and welfare – Behavior and conservation of white-capped mangabey in Ghana (in situ) – Cognitive enrichment and playing-training therapy in non-human primates.
  • Cognitive adaptations in ungulates.
  • Feeding ecology, tooth wear and adaptation in primates.
  • Primate behavioral ecology in well-known wild populations.
  • Evolution of fairness, morality, reciprocity and revenge: inter-species studies.

Highlighted publications


  • Richardson, J.L., Levy, E.J., Ranjithkumar, R., Yang, H., Monson, E., Conin, A., Galbany, J., Robbins, M.M., Alberts, S.C., Reeves, M.E. & McFarlin, S.C. (2022). Automated, high-throughput image calibration for parallel-laser photogrammetry. Special Issue: “Individual Identification and Photographic Techniques in Mammalian Ecological and Behavioural Research – Part 1: Methods, Applications and Concepts”. Mammalian Biology


  • McGrath, K., Eriksen, A.B., García-Martínez, D., Galbany, J., Gómez-Robles, A., Massey, J.S., Fatica, L.M., Glowacka, H., Arbenz-Smith, K., Muvunyi, R., Stoinski, T.S., Cranfield, M.R., Gilardi, K., Shalukoma, C., de Merode, E., Gilissen, E., Tocheri, M.W., McFarlin, S.C. & Heuzé, Y. (2022). Facial asymmetry tracks genetic diversity among Gorilla subspecies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 289: 20212564.


  • Caicoya, A. L., Amici, F., Ensenyat, C., & Colell, M. (2021). Comparative cognition in three understudied ungulate species: European bison , forest buffalos and giraffes Front Zool, 18, 30.


  • Caicoya, A. L., Colell, M., Ensenyat, C., & Amici, F. (2021). Problem solving in European bison Bison bonasus): two experimental approaches. Royal Society Open Science 8, 201901.


  • Wright, E., Grawunder, S., Ndayishimiye, E., Galbany, J., McFarlin, S.C., Stoinski, T.S. & Robbins, M.M. (2021). Chest beats as an honest signal of body size in male mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Scientific Reports 11(1): 6879.


  • Caicoya, A. L., Colell, M., Holland, R., Ensenyat, C., & Amici, F. (2020). Giraffes go for more: a quantity discrimination study in giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis. Animal Cognition 24, 483-495.


  • Schaffer A., Caicoya, A. L., Colell, M., Holland, R., Ensenyat, C., & Amici, F. (2020). Gaze following in ungulates: domesticated and non domesticated species follow the gaze of both humans and conspecifics in an experimental context. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 3087.


  • Wright, E., Galbany, J., McFarlin, S.C., Ndayishimiye, E., Stoinski, T.S. & Robbins, M.M. (2020). Dominance rank but not body size influences female reproductive success in mountain gorillas. PLoS ONE 15(6): e0233235.


  • Martínez, L.M., Estebaranz, F., Ferràndez-Cañadell, C., Romero, A., Ribot, F., Galbany, J., Gibert, L. & Pérez-Pérez, A. (2020). Buccal dental-microwear and feeding ecology of Early Pleistocene Theropithecus oswaldi from Cueva Victoria (Spain). Journal of Human Evolution 142: 102736.


  • Galbany, J., Twahirwa, J.C., Baiges-Sotos, L., Kane, E.E., Tuyisingize, D., Kaleme, P., Rwetsiba, A., Bitariho, R., Cranfield, M.R., Bromage, T.G., Mudakikwa, A., Stoinski, T.S., Robbins, M.M. & McFarlin, S.C. (2020). Dental macrowear in catarrhine primates: Variability across species. In: Schmidt C & Watson JT (Eds.) Dental wear in evolutionary and biocultural contexts. Pp. 11-37. Elsevier/Academic Press.


  • Bueno-Guerra, N., Voelter, C. J., de las Heras, A., Colell, M., & Call, J. (2019). Bargaining in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): The effect of cost, amount of gift, reciprocity, and communication. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 133(4), 542–550.


  • Caicoya, A. L., Amici, F., Ensenyat, C., & Colell, M. (2019). Object Permanence in Giraffa camelopardalis: First steps in giraffes’ physical cognition. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 133(2), 207–214.


  • Chaves Molina, A. B., Masuet Cullell, T., & Colell Mimo, M. (2019). String-pulling in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus): performance in discrimination tasks. Behaviour, 156(5–8, SI), 847–857.


  • Wright, E., Galbany, J., McFarlin, S.C., Ndayishimiye, E., Stoinski, T.S. & Robbins, M.M. (2019). Male body size, dominance rank and strategic use of aggression in a group-living mammal. Animal Behaviour 151:87-102.


  • Galbany, J., Muhire, T., Vecellio, V., Mudakikwa, A., Nyiramana, A., Cranfield, M.R., Stoinski, T.S. & McFarlin, S.C. (2018). Incisor tooth wear and age determination in mountain gorillas from Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 167:930-935.


  • Percher, A., Merceron, G., Nsi Akoue, G., Galbany, J., Romero, A. & Charpentier, M.J.E. (2018). Dental microwear textural analysis as an analytical tool to depict individual traits and reconstruct the diet of a primat. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 165:123-138.


  • Galbany, J., Abavandimwe, D., Vakiener, M., Eckardt, W., Mudakikwa, A., Ndagijimana, F., Stoinski, T.S. & McFarlin, S.C. (2017). Body growth in wild mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) from Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 163: 570-590.