National Institute of Fundamental Studies

Project Description

The overall aim of the program is to establish new knowledge concerning the biological foundations for social behaviour in non-human primates (and by inference, man). This aim has interdisciplinary ramifications. Hence, past research and publications have addressed the interrelationships among factors concerning social organization, matrilineal kinship, ecology, environmental change and their effects on demography (Darwinian fitness). For example, our research was the first to establish an actuarial life-table for primates and showed that social behaviour influences individual differences in survival, breeding success, and morphological development. Our aims and data collection protocols require consistency over many years.

Research Group

Research Colloboration

  • Prof. RPV Jayanthe Rajapakse, Professor of Parasitology and Head of the Department of Pathobiology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya.
  • Dr. Ashoka Dangolla, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Health, University of Peradeniya.
  • Professor Peter Nuernberg, Cologne Center for Genomics CCG, University of Cologne, Germany
  • Kerstin Becker (Graduate student), Cologne Center for Genomics CCG, University of Cologne, Germany
  • Rashika Kumarasingha (Graduate student), Department of Pathobiology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya
  • Amanda Schenk, Fulbright Scholar, Sri Lanka-USA

Achievements of the Project

Our scientific research on primate biology has several products emanating from it: publications, talks, student dissertations, training programs, outreach nature education programs (including the IFS Kandy School of Science) and conservation activities in the local community. We also herald our knowledge and new scientific discoveries about the marvels of primate society by way of quality documentary films (locally and globally). Our aim is to educate and inspire people worldwide towards appreciating our biological heritage and to conserve it.

Primate behavior and its evolution are best understood in the context of many disciplines. Therefore, collaborators, interns and students with different expertise, institutions and nationalities have contributed to the research. Under the IFS umbrella only, our publications have dealt with dry zone forest ecology (n=2), wildlife management and research techniques (n= 6), behaviour and animal communication (n= 7), behavioural ecology, sociobiology and evolution (n= 11), physiology, growth and disease (n= 12), demography, population genetics and paternity (n=5), student dissertations and reports (24). The most recent studies have been done in collaboration with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya, as well as with the Cologne Center for Genomics, Germany. We were thrice honored with the Sri Lankan Presidential Award for Science.

The documentary film, Temple Troop, had won 12 international awards, and we produced an original narration in Sinhala. Nine other films were substantial programs, 6 were short films for children, and the latest production (2009-10) involved a series of 14 half-hour programs on Animal Planet. In an applied sense, our films extol Sri Lanka’s culture and natural heritages and therefore help to promote tourism.

- Information provided by the Group Leader -