Dr. Markus Port

Research interests
I am interested in the evolution of sociality and cooperation in human and non-human primates, as well as in social vertebrates more generally. My research takes a multifaceted approach, which includes behavioral observations of primates in the wild, the analysis of long-term demographic data, and mathematical modeling.

My current project aims at developing a general mathematical theory of social evolution in human and non-human primates. My research combines the verbal reasoning behind the ‘Socioecological Model’ of primate social organization with theoretical approaches developed in the broader field of evolutionary biology, focusing particularly on cooperation and competition among kin. The goal of my project is to develop a theoretical framework that derives clear, testable predictions, and that links primate socioecology with the broader field of behavioural ecology.

Curriculum vitae

  • 2012 – present: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Funded by VolkswagenStiftung) Courant Research Center Evolution of Social Behaviour, University of Göttingen
  • 2009 – 2012: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Funded by the German Research Foundation, DFG) University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2005 – 2009: PhD Biology (Zoology, Anthropology), German Primate Centre and University of Göttingen
  • 2003 – 2004: Studies of History, University of Kassel
  • 1996 – 2003: Diplom (equivalent MSc) Biology (Zoology, Anthropology, Psychology), University of Göttingen


  • Port M, Schülke O & Ostner J (in press) Reproductive tolerance in male primates - old paradigms and new evidence. Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Port M, Schülke O & Ostner J (2017) From individual to group territoriality: Competitive environments promote the evolution of sociality, American Naturalist 189, E46-E57; DOI: 10.1086/690218
  • Borries C, Sandel A, Koenig A, Fernandez-Duque, Kamilar J, Amoroso C, Barton R, Bray J, Di Fiore A, Gilby I, Gordon A, Mundry R, Port M, Powell L, Pusey A, Spriggs A & Nunn C (2016) Transparency, usability, and reproducibility: guiding principles for improving comparative databases using primates as examples, Evolutionary Anthropology 25, 232-238
  • Port, M, Cant, M.A. (2014) Reproductive competition among males in multi-male groups of primates. What is the price of success? International Journal of Primatology 35, 746-763
  • Port, M., Cant, M.A. (2013) Longevity suppresses conflict in animal societies. Biology Letters 9, 20130680
  • Port, M., Johnstone, R.A. (2013) Facing the crowd: Intruder pressure, within-group competition, and the resolution of conflicts over group-membership. Ecology and Evolution 3, 1206-1218.
  • Port, M., Johnstone, R.A., Kappeler, P.M. (2012) The evolution of multi-male groups in Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), or how to test an evolutionary demographic model. Behavioral Ecology 23, 889-897.
  • Port, M., Kappeler, P.M., Johnstone, R.A. (2011) Joint territory defence and the evolution of sociality. The American Naturalist 178, 787-800.
  • Port, M., Johnstone, R.A., Kappeler, P.M. (2010) Costs and benefits of multi-male associations in redfronted lemurs (Eulemur fulvus rufus). Biology Letters 6, 620- 622.
  • Port, M., Kappeler, P.M. (2010) The utility of reproductive skew theory in the study of male primates – a critical evaluation. Evolutionary Anthropology 19, 46-56.
  • Kappeler, P.M., Mass, V., Port, M. (2009) Even adult sex ratios in lemurs: potential costs and benefits of subordinate males in Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) in the Kirindy Forest CFPF, Madagascar. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140, 487-497.
  • Port, M., Clough, D., Kappeler, P.M. (2009) Market effects offset the reciprocation of grooming in free ranging redfronted lemurs (Eulemur fulvus rufus) Animal Behaviour, 77, 29-36.
  • Kappeler, P.M.*, Port, M.* (2008) Mutual tolerance or reproductive competition? Patterns of reproductive skew among male redfronted lemurs (Eulemur fulvus rufus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62: 1477-1488.
  • Port, M., Rothe, H. (2003) Eine nicht-invasive Methode der Gewichtserfassung in einer Gruppe semifreilebender Weißbüschelaffen (Callithrix jacchus). Der Zoologische Garten 73: 422-425.

Invited talks

  • Port, M. From tug-of-war over reproduction to conflict over group membership: A theory of conflict and conflict resolution. Symposium contribution, 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Knoxville, Tennessee (USA), 04/ 2013
  • Port, M. Cooperation and competition among kin and the evolution of sociality in primates. Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge (MA), USA, 02/ 2013.
  • Port, M. Kin selection, group selection and the evolution of sociality in primates. Department of Primatology, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, 01/ 2013.
  • Port, M., Kappeler, P.M., Johnstone, R.A. Theoretical models of primate social evolution: a new approach. DPZ Kolloquium, German Primate Centre, Göttingen, Germany, 10/ 2010.

My research is funded by: