Vulturine Guineafowl Project

Vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) are the largest species of guineafowl and are highly social, exhibiting distinct decision-making structures. This project seeks to better understand their social structure and decision-making — but how does one answer questions of the collective movement, social dynamics, and fitness consequences of these social decision-making vulturine guineafowl? By incorporating state-of-the-art technology and computational techniques with life-time monitoring of individuals!

In 2016, the social lives of these brilliantly blue birds became the focus of the Vulturine Guineafowl Project. In the first three years, the project team has trapped and marked a whopping 900 individual birds, and fit solar-powered GPS tags to individuals in every social group in the study area. Combining the detailed information about home range and movement of each group, together with daily censuses of group membership and affiliative interactions will provide the basis for mechanistic studies that will shed light on processes ranging from the ontogeny of social positions to the consequences of living in different types of groups.

The team hopes that these unique long-term, large-scale, and high-resolution data will provide the critical pieces for answering key questions about the evolution of animal societies.

Brenda Nyaguthii field Photo by Kennedy Gitau
Brenda Nyaguthii field Photo by Kennedy Gitau

University: Max Planck Institute for Animal Behaviour, Starnberg, Germany

Primary Investigator: Dr. Damien Farine,

Project Manager: Kennedy Kipkorir

Project start: 2016