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Filoha Hamadryas Project

Hamadryas baboons traveling
A hamadryas one-male unit leaving the sleeping site to begin its daily travel route.
The Filoha Hamadryas Project, co-directed by Larissa Swedell and Shahrina Chowdhury, is a long-term field project in Ethiopia focusing on the behavioral biology of hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas),  one of six types of baboons alternately classified as species or subspecies of a single biological species (in which case hamadryas would be Papio hamadryas hamadryas).  Named after the Filoha outpost of Awash National Park (located at the Filoha hot springs, "fil" "wuha" meaning hot water in Amharic), the Filoha Hamadryas Project focuses on the baboons inhabiting the northern region of the park, north of Mount Fantalle.  The primary focus of our research over the years has been Band 1, numbering about 200.  Several other bands also frequent the region, one of which, Band 3, we have also studied intermittently.  Each band uses multiple cliffs as sleeping sites, one of which is the cliff located at the Filoha outpost (right).  Sleeping sites are scattered throughout their home range, which we now know to be over 100 square kilometers (Henriquez et al., 2021).

hamadryas baboon male with Filoha camp in background
A male and juvenile on top of the Filoha sleeping cliff.  The Filoha outpost is in the background.
A hamadryas male grooming a female.
A hamadryas male grooms a female on top of the Filoha sleeping cliff.
The Filoha Hamadryas Project began with Larissa Swedell's PhD research in 1996-1998 focusing on behavioral ecology (Swedell 2002b, 2006) and the reproductive and social strategies of females (Swedell 2000, 2002a, 2006). Work at Filoha since then has continued to elucidate elements of their unusual male-dominated multi-level social system, including mechanisms of female acquisition and loss (e.g., Pines et al., 2011, 2015; Swedell & Schreier 2009; Pines & Swedell 2011; Swedell et al., 2011), the relationship between ecology and social grouping patterns (e.g., Swedell et al, 2008; Schreier 2010; Schreier & Swedell 2009, 2012a,b; Henriquez et al., 2021), modes of dispersal (Swedell et al., 2011; Staedele et al., 2015) and patterns of kinship within and among social units (Staedele et al., 2015, 2016).
The doum palm (Hyphaene thebaica), the main food source of the Filoha baboons.
The Filoha sleeping cliff.
Most recently, our team has been focusing on (1) sexual conflict, in particular the coercive behavior of hamadryas males, its costs for females, and ways in which females might mitigate these costs (Swedell et al., 2014; Amann et al., 2017; Evans et al, 2022); and (2) the adaptive value of social relationships in hamadryas society, including the ways in which leader males may benefit from the presence of follower males in their units (Chowdhury et al., 2015).  We are also collaborating with others research teams on projects related to parasite ecology, functional morphology, and the gut microbiome.

While active data collection at Filoha has been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ethiopian Civil War, we welcome collaborations and typically have ongoing opportunities for volunteer field assistants.  If you are interested in collaborating with the Filoha Hamadryas Project,  please contact Larissa Swedell and Shahrina Chowdhury. 

For a list of publications from research at Filoha, click here.

The Wasaro sleeping cliff.

The Filoha Hamadryas Project is affiliated with the Awash National Park Baboon Research Project (co-directed by Jane Phillips-Conroy and Cliff Jolly) and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, and has been generously funded over the years by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, and the PSC-CUNY Award Program of the City University of New York.
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