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NYU’s Di Fiore and Link Awarded Guggenheim Grant

April 21, 2010

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation has awarded New York University primatologist Anthony Di Fiore and Andres Link, a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science, a research grant to study aggression in South American spider monkeys. Through their study, the researchers hope to better understand the factors that lead to group conflict in humans as well as in non-human primates.

A generation ago, anthropologists thought that lethal intergroup raids, boundary patrolling and defense, and intergroup “warfare” were unique to human societies. But subsequent inquiry has shown these same behaviors are evident in populations of wild chimpanzees, suggesting that the study of nonhuman primates could yield insight into understanding human warfare and coalitionary violence. Chimpanzees have thus come to be regarded as a valuable model for assessing the basic principles influencing the evolution of these elements of human behavioral biology.

Using the $29,500 Guggenheim grant, Di Fiore and Link will study aggression and intergroup violence in spider monkeys in Ecuador by collecting behavioral data on their social interactions.

“The behavior of spider monkeys and chimpanzees provide us with an important opportunity to test what basic socioecological variables and other factors might point toward the emergence of warfare and intergroup coalitionary violence in primates generally,” explained Di Fiore. “By investigating whether such violence appears to emerge mainly under particular social conditions, the study will not only build upon our current knowledge of warfare but might also suggest social strategies effective for reducing the likelihood of coalitionary violence among humans.”


New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities.  It is one of the largest private universities, it has one of the largest contingents of international students, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other college or university in the U.S. Through its numerous schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
College of Arts and Science, Faculty, Faculty, Research

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

An Ecuadoran spider monkey

NYU's Anthony Di Fiore and Andres Link will study aggression in South American spider monkeys. Their results may lead to a better understanding of the factors that prompt group conflict in humans as well as in non-human primates.

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