Research at the Kalahari Meerkat Project

The Kalahari Meerkat Project investigates both ultimate and proximate causes of cooperative breeding in mammals. Longterm data from habituated groups of wild meerkats allow for a variety of empirical questions in evolutionary and behavioural ecology to be investigated at both the individual and population level. Currently, research focuses on the following areas:

  • costs and benefits of cooperative behaviour
  • variation in helping investment amongst individuals
  • conflict over reproduction
  • hormonal regulation of cooperative behaviour
  • population consequences of cooperative breeding
  • communication mechanisms and evolution
  • anti-predation strategies
  • patterns of decision-making in cooperative groups
  • social and ecological knowledge
  • teaching, learning and skill acquisition


Follow this link to access the Kalahari Meerkat Project's publications.

The project was founded in the Kgalagadi National Park (formerly the Gemsbok National Park) in north-west South Africa, but was relocated in 1993 to what became the Kuruman River Reserve (KRR).


The KRR is jointly owned by the Kalahari Research Trust and the University of Cambridge. The project founder, Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock, is Professor of Animal Ecology of the University of Cambridge and is project director. Professor Marta Manser co-directs the project and is an Associate Professor in Animal Behavior at Zurich University (Switzerland).


There are usually 10-15 students, staff and volunteers at the KRR study site at any one time. They typically include a South African technician responsible for the logistics of the project, 6-8 post-graduate volunteers, 1-4 Ph.D. students and independent post-doctoral researchers conducting their own research.

Last update:  13:32 19/07 2016
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