Monday, December 28, 2020

Welcome to GreenToadstool!

 You, our absolutely incredible citizen scientists, got through the SoaringLeaf speciesID workflow SUPER FAST and before the end of the year!


We opened a new site: Welcome to GreenToadstool!

more here:

Thursday, December 17, 2020

First Chimp&See Paper (and new PanAf paper): Chimpanzee Identification and Social Network Construction through an Online Citizen Science Platform

Our first paper! 

We find that citizen scientists can reliably identify chimpanzees from camera trap videos. 

McCarthy MS, Stephens C, Dieguez P, Samuni L, Després-Einspenner ML, Harder B, Landsmann A, Lynn LK, Maldonado N, Ročkaiová Z, Widness J, Wittig RM, Boesch C, Kühl HS, Arandjelovic M (2020) Chimpanzee Identification and Social Network Construction through an Online Citizen Science Platform. Ecology and Evolution doi : 10.1002/ece3.7128

Video abstract:

Citizen science has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years due to its potential to educate and engage the public while providing a means to address a myriad of scientific questions. However, the rise in popularity of citizen science has also been accompanied by concerns about the quality of data emerging from citizen science research projects. We assessed data quality in the online citizen scientist platform Chimp&See, which hosts camera trap videos of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and other species across Equatorial Africa. In particular, we compared detection and identification of individual chimpanzees by citizen scientists with that of experts with years of experience studying those chimpanzees. We found that citizen scientists typically detected the same number of individual chimpanzees as experts, but assigned far fewer identifications (IDs) to those individuals. Those IDs assigned, however, were nearly always in agreement with the IDs provided by experts. We applied the data sets of citizen scientists and experts by constructing social networks from each. We found that both social networks were relatively robust and shared a similar structure, as well as having positively correlated individual network positions. Our findings demonstrate that, although citizen scientists produced a smaller data set based on fewer confirmed IDs, the data strongly reflect expert classifications and can be used for meaningful assessments of group structure and dynamics. This approach expands opportunities for social research and conservation monitoring in great apes and many other individually identifiable species.

Visit us at and participate in citizen science!


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Another site is finished – Twin Oaks in the beautiful Loango National Park in Gabon

Last week, volunteers finished classifications in all three workflows for the Twin Oaks site in Gabon. This site was pretty special. First, it was just a beautiful forest landscape with many fancy birds, great elephant footage, and far more leopard sightings that we ever had at any site before. The elephant and leopard mini-projects are still gathering evidence for individual identifications to know more about the number and demographics of these species at Loango National Park, so get involved here, if that’s your passion.

The Chimp&See leopard mini-project aims to identify individual leopards by comparing their unique coat patterns.
Secondly, the site was pretty special in terms of chimpanzee sightings and discussions. The camera traps had been set up in collaboration with the Loango Chimpanzee Project, directed by Simone Pika and Tobias Deschner. The Loango Chimpanzee Project studies chimpanzee behavior and ecology in the Park since 2005 and habituated the Rekambo community that was also targeted by the Chimp&See camera traps. A recent finding of the project that made the news shows that chimpanzees crack tortoises open to eat them. 

Because of this collaboration, we had the chance to discuss with a researcher, Alessandra Mascaro, and Chimp&See citizen-scientist moderator Heidi Pfund about individual chimps that Alessandra knows intimately from her fieldwork. That means, we did not really discuss possible matches, but rather perspectives and identifiable traits of known chimpanzees. This “reverse matching” resulted in a steep learning curve for everyone involved and provided some new matching perspectives, but also caveats, for other sites where we typically discuss unknown chimps from just the camera trap footage. Another interesting part of these discussions were known family relationships and life stories of the chimps, even if that meant to know that a certain individual died during or after the study period. 

Finishing Twin Oaks doesn’t mean that we’ve run out of work. We started a two-months “chimp matching challenge” to finish the huge Xenon Bloom site. Become part of the team and help us identify all chimps and annotate the videos. We also opened a new site “Soaring Leaf” in West Africa, if you’re more drawn to the general “Species ID” workflow. 

Get involved at and thanks a lot for all your help on behalf of the Chimp&See science team!

Monday, October 5, 2020

New Dragonfly is finished – here the highlights!

With the help of many volunteers, we finished classifications last week at our West African site “New Dragonfly”. We annotated not only all subjects in general Species ID workflow, but also identified all “trotters” (hoofed animals) and primates to the species level. Thanks to everyone involved for the great effort! 

What did we find? On the species level, we've seen waterbucks for the first time, many bushbucks close to the camera, and burly giant forest hogs. A special highlight for many has been the rich footage of pangolins and aardvarks in the wild. We do see them rarely and New Dragonly offered some really close looks. 


On the chimp side, we are not quite done with matching all individuals seen and you are still invited to help with chimp identification at New Dragonfly. We already identified some very special chimps, like wonderful Grace here with her infant, but would love some input in discussions about the juveniles and some special males. Easiest to get involved is by following the link above and read the pinned discussions that have open proposals (marked with **), watch the videos and chimps in question, and tell us what you think. 

Grace with her yet unnamed infant discovering the camera. Her unique face helped with identification.


The chimps at New Dragonfly showed us plenty of tool use to collect ants with very fine sticks and delicate handling to avoid any biting, as well as honey extraction with long, sturdy sticks to gather honey from beehives in tree holes and underground nests. The tools are used here to open bee nests (e.g., by pounding) and to collect the honey. The chimp family in this video shows how it is done. 


If you are not into chimp matching, Chimp&See has three workflows on a very special site at Gabon's Loango National Park - called Twin Oaks - open, where you can help annotate within the general Species ID workflow or specialize in primates or trotters identification. You can find the Loango Chimpanzee Project also on Twitter and Youtube.

If you aren't volunteering with us yet - please get involved and annotate African wildlife at Chimp&See!

Friday, September 18, 2020

New PanAf paper: Chimpanzees show greater behavioural and cultural diversity in more variable environments

An international team of researchers led by Ammie Kalan and Hjalmar Kühl of the Pan African Programme: the Cultured Chimpanzee (PanAf) at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology compiled a data set combining fieldwork conducted by the PanAf at 46 field sites, plus an in-depth literature search on chimpanzee research. For 144 chimpanzee social groups they investigated the long-standing question of under which environmental conditions chimpanzees acquire more behavioural traits. They used their unique dataset to test whether chimpanzee groups were more likely to possess a larger set of behaviours if they lived in more seasonal habitats or habitats where forest cover repeatedly changed over the last thousands of years. The behaviours largely included tool use and more than half have been described as cultural in previous studies.

Press Release HERE
Original Paper HERE

Kalan AK, Kulik L, Arandjelovic M, Boesch C, Haas F, Dieguez P, Barratt CD, Abwe EE, Agbor A, Angedakin S, Aubert F, Ayimisin EA, Bailey E, Bessone M, Brazzola G, Buh VE, Chancellor R, Cohen H, Coupland C, Curran B, Danquah E, Deschner T, Dowd D, Eno-Nku M, Fay JM, Goedmakers A, Granjon AC, Head J, Hedwig D, Hermans V, Jeffery KJ, Jones S, Junker J, Kadam P, Kambi M, Kienast I, Kujirakwinja D, Langergraber KE, Lapuente J, Larson B, Lee KC, Leinert V, Llana M, Marrocoli S, Meier AC, Morgan B, Morgan D, Neil E, Nicholl S, Normand E, Ormsby LJ, Pacheco L, Piel A, Preece J, Robbins MM, Rundus A, Sanz C, Sommer V, Stewart F, Tagg N, Tennie C, Vergnes V, Welsh A, Wessling EG, Willie J, Wittig RM, Yuh YG, Zuberbuehler K, Kühl HS (2020) Environmental variability supports chimpanzee behavioural diversity. Nature Communications 11 (4451) doi: 0.1038/s41467-020-18176-3

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Rainforest Redux virtual seminar series with Dr. Ammie Kalan

On Wednesday, June 24th 2020, Chimp&See science moderator Dr. Ammie Kalan gives an online talk about Chimpanzee diversity across their range and her research within the PanAf (which Chimp&See is a part of) at the Max Planck Institute for Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) in their Pan-African Evolution Research Group Monthly Virtual Seminars.

You can listen online via zoom. You need to register (please be aware that it is a two-step registration process) via e-mail:

It’s at 5 p.m. CEST

Here a link to the flyer:

Update (2020/06/29)

If you missed this talk by Ammie Kalan, there is a second chance to listen to her on Tuesday, June 30th, also at 5 p.m. CEST, on youtube. There will be a livestreaming at the Primate Conversations Seminar Series:

No registration needed. Just tune in!

A Pan-African Perspective: Chimpanzee Behavioural Diversity across their Range

The Pan African Programme: the Cultured Chimpanzee ('PanAf') began in 2010 and has used a standardized protocol for collecting data on wild chimpanzees at more than 40 sites across equatorial Africa. All chimpanzee communities studied to date were unhabituated to researchers at the time of data collection therefore remote camera-trap devices were the primary method for recording behavioural observations. Using such an approach, the PanAf has identified new behavioural variants in wild chimpanzees and has recently described unprecedented cultural complexity in community-specific termite fishing techniques. By combining PanAf data with what we already know about chimpanzees, we also demonstrated that just as wild populations are declining, both behavioural and cultural diversity are similarly threatened across their range due to increasing anthropogenic disturbance. Combined, this research highlights the need for widespread conservation efforts to encompass a variety of wild populations if we are to ever know the true extent of chimpanzee cultural diversity.

The talk will be available later at the same URL in case you can't make it to the livestream.

Update (2020/07/04)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Facebook AI/PanAf collaboration update - Densepose: AI for orienting humans (and chimps) in space

We're happy to announce the results from our first collaboration with facebook AI where they used the PanAf chimpanzee videos to test whether their Densepose algorithm could retrain itself to identify the planes of a new species. Originally Densepose was trained on human videos and can identify an individual's horizontal and vertical planes - so it can identify what is the front and the back, the left side and right side, and  the top and bottom of various body parts, which all move together to document how a person (or chimp) is moving.

In the example below you can see:
Top left panel - a still from the original video with 2 chimps
Top right panel - each of the body parts that can be detected by Densepose, head, hand, forearm, upper arm, torso, etc each coded in a different colour.
Lower left panel - the horizontal plane is coded for each body part. For example, the left side of the head is yellow, the right side is blue.
Lower right pane - the vertical plane is coded: the top of the head is yellow and the bottom is blue.

Put all together, the animal can be oriented in space!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

New PanAf paper: Chimpanzee Ethnography Reveals Unexpected Cultural Diversity

How complex are chimpanzee cultures?
Chimpanzee groups each have their own unique termite fishing cultures

The transmission of cultures from generation-to-generation is only found in a few species besides humans. Chimpanzees are one such species and exhibit a large diversity of cultural and tool use behaviours. Although these behaviours have been well documented at a handful of long term research sites, the true cultural repertoire of chimpanzees across populations is still poorly understood. To better understand this diversity, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, initiated the ‘Pan African Programme: The Cultured Chimpanzee’ (PanAf) in 2010. Using a standardized protocol, researchers set up camera traps, collected samples and recorded ecological data at over 40 temporary and long-term research sites across Africa.

Prior to this study, termite fishing was thought to occur in only two forms with one or multiple tools, from either above-ground or underground termite nests. By carefully observing the techniques required to termite fish at 10 different sites, lead author Christophe Boesch created a catalogue of behaviours (or ethogram) for each chimpanzee in the study.

What was found was 38 different technical elements making up the various termite fishing techniques, all of which were combined in different ways in each of the chimpanzee communities. In addition, individuals in the same community shared more of the termite fishing technical elements, and unique combinations of the technical elements, when compared to chimpanzees from other groups. 

“The diversity of techniques seen in chimpanzee termite fishing was a huge surprise to me. Not only does each community have a very unique way of fishing, they also combine a number of different elements into specific termite fishing etiquettes” explains Dr. Christophe Boesch “the most striking examples of this are how the Wonga Wongue chimpanzees of Gabon usually lie down on their sides to termite fish, while the Korup chimpanzees in Cameroon lean on their elbows, and the ones from Goualougo in the Republic of Congo sit while fishing”.
Wonga Wongue, Gabon
Korup, Cameroon
Goualougo, R-Congo
Because the communities of chimpanzees live in similar habitats with access to the same resources, ecological differences could mostly be ruled out to explain the observed differences. “This supports the idea that chimpanzees are capable of imitating social techniques in ‘how to termite fish’ which goes beyond alternative explanations such as each individual reinventing termite fishing each time they learn it” explained co-author Ammie Kalan.

Much like in human etiquette, not everything is about increased efficiency but rather about conforming to what the rest of the group is doing. In humans, this is observed in the different chopstick cultures across Asia. “For example, in Thailand and Japan not only are chopsticks somehow shaped differently, but the way they hold them differ as well, and this is very reminiscent of what we see here with chimpanzees. In La Belgique in Cameroon, chimpanzees fashion their stick by opening the fibers to obtain a long brush and then rest the termite-covered stick on their wrist while they eat. On the other hand, at another site in Cameroon called Korup, the chimpanzees do not make a brush at all and use their mouth to shake the inserted stick while it is in the mound”, explains Christophe Boesch.
La Belgique, Cameroon
In humans, cultural variation has been documented in hundreds of different populations which is one explanation for why chimpanzee culture seems so limited in comparison. “What we knew before about chimpanzees came from at most 15 communities” noted co-author Hjalmar Kuehl,  “through the PanAf we have been able to study many more communities and by this we are able to learn more about the richness of chimpanzee diversity and culture and could demonstrate that there is so much more to discover out there.”

Further analyses of videos and other data collected from the PanAf are currently underway. “Termite fishing and other cultural behaviours of wild chimpanzees can be observed first hand by signing onto our citizen science platform Chimp&See”, says co-author Mimi Arandjelovic. At Chimp&See citizen scientists can watch the over 1 million video clips the PanAf has recorded from all across Africa of chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, buffalo, leopards and many more species. Visit and you could be a citizen scientist contributing to analyzing data and help with further discoveries in the wild!

Boesch C, Kalan AK, Mundry R, Arandjelovic M, Pika S, Dieguez P, Ayimisin EA, Barciela A, Coupland C, Egbe VE, Eno-Nku M, Fay JM, Fine D, Hernandez-Aguilar RA, Hermans V, Kadam P, Kambi M, Llana M, Maretti G, Morgan D, Murai M, Neil E, Nicholl S, Ormsby LJ, Orume R, Pacheco L, Piel A, Sanz C, Sciaky L, Stewart FA, Tagg N, Wessling EG, Willie J, Kühl HS (2020) Chimpanzee Ethnography Reveals Unexpected Cultural Diversity. Nature Human Behaviour doi: 10.1038/s41562-020-0890-1

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Commentary: Chimpanzee termite fishing etiquette

A fantastic commentary on our new paper by Dr. Kathelijne Koops:  Chimpanzee termite fishing etiquette

Human culture is unique. Or is it? A new study reveals unexpected cultural diversity in the fine-grained details of chimpanzee termite fishing behaviour. These novel findings shed light on the richness of chimpanzee cultural diversity and reveal a narrower gap between the cultures of humans and other apes

original citation
Boesch C, Kalan AK, Mundry R, Arandjelovic M, Pika S, Dieguez P, Ayimisin EA, Barciela A, Coupland C, Egbe VE, Eno-Nku M, Fay JM, Fine D, Hernandez-Aguilar RA, Hermans V, Kadam P, Kambi M, Llana M, Maretti G, Morgan D, Murai M, Neil E, Nicholl S, Ormsby LJ, Orume R, Pacheco L, Piel A, Sanz C, Sciaky L, Stewart FA, Tagg N, Wessling EG, Willie J, Kühl HS (2020) Chimpanzee Ethnography Reveals Unexpected Cultural Diversity. Nature Human Behaviour doi: 10.1038/s41562-020-0890-1

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Thursday, April 23, 2020

New Site Opened - Welcome to Twin Oaks in Central Africa (in collaboration with the Loango Chimpanzee Project, Gabon)

Since we finished a site last night (pant hoots!) we just opened a new site tonight. Its called Twin Oaks and we're back in Central Africa! Get ready for eles and gorillas and chimps, oh my!

Access all the different workflows on the main page of

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Happy Anniversary - 5 years of Chimp&See - Part 2

Today marks the 5th anniversary of Chimp&See! The Chimp&See citizen science project has been very busy lately with many new volunteers that we want to welcome to our project and community. These are frightening and confusing times for many, if not all people, who have to practice social distancing or self-isolate due to health concerns in the current Covid-19 pandemic. We're glad that we can provide many people with an opportunity to volunteer in our online project, to contribute to science, while staying safely at home. And while being here - you help us tremendously!

Chimp&See recently (re-)opened a second research site “New Dragonfly” and we had our first glances on the highly-endangered Nigeria-Cameroonian chimpanzees, the only (of four) chimpanzee subspecies that we hadn’t seen to date. Although, there is momentarily no chimpanzee matching for this site on-going, you can watch and learn about excellent tool-use techniques of chimps here. We’ve already seen them using sticks to fish for termites in mounds and ants in trees. Highlights are certainly young chimps trying to master the techniques. In addition, there is wonderful cameratrap footage to watch about pangolins and aardvarks, two nocturnal and rarely seen species.

As a major milestone, we are about to finish our first site since re-launch “Xenon Bloom”. This site featured not only great footage of the socially busiest and most enthusiastic Guinea baboons, beautiful bushbucks, the most birds of prey of every site up to now, but also the – by far – most chimpanzee videos of all sites.

And those chimpanzees went fishing. For algae. They used a variety of sticks to fish algae from the flat riverbed to feed on them. This new tool use behavior that has only been documented on one other research site (outside of Chimp&See) came as a total surprise to the researchers. As the chimps are often fishing in groups, social interactions during or with tool-use added to the appeal of this videos and were a great leaning opportunity about chimpanzee behavior. We had great discussions about tool making, practicing and learning by young chimps, handedness, and the fact the chimpanzees seem to be much more reluctant to actually go into the water to get the prized items than the (young) baboons that had lots of fun playing in the ponds.

Although, the general Species ID workflow for Xenon Bloom is finished, we have still to follow-up workflows for monkey and prosimians and the ungulates of this site open. If you can’t get enough from those Guinea baboons, head over to the MonkeySee workflow. If you want to see new species and a different landscape – try the Species ID workflow New Dragonfly.

Classifying so many videos in such a short time wouldn’t be possible without many people who got involved, classify relentlessly, hashtag species, and ask questions. We are thanking all new volunteers who discovered Chimp&See during the last weeks and months. It is great to have you here and if you are new to cameratrap projects or African wildlife, don’t worry if you sometimes just don’t know. Please take you best guess in classification and asked the moderators and scientists on Talk for more information or to discuss a behavior with you.

But we also want to give a special shout out – it’s the fifth anniversary of our launch after all – to all the people who are part of the Chimp&See family for years now and shared our interest and work for longer or shorter periods over the years. We couldn’t and can’t do that without you!

Thank you! Dankeschön! Merci! ¡Gracias! Grazie! Děkuji! 

To discover even more, get involved and be a citizen scientist at Chimp&See! But most importantly: Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home!

Happy Earth Day and 5th Anniversary of Chimp&See - Part 1

Thor assisting with Chimp&See classifications
To celebrate we would love to see photos of you, your pets, your family, or whoever you're locked up with participating at chimp&see (or even just your workstation on its own)! Post them on Talk, twitter or facebook 😃

Later today we will also post a very special blog post by @AnLand!

A big thank you to our current incredible moderators @yshish , @Boleyn , @HeikeW @AnLand and LauraKLynn (and our previous moderators @Quia, @ksigler, @jwidness ) and our science moderator @NuriaM who has been holding down the fort with chimp matching this last year!!

Also a huge thank you to our other science mods and translators who have helped make Chimp&See what it is today!: @PauDG @akalan @asgoffe @maureenmccarthy @vittoriaestienne @Pinkynz2 @coryphella @Selini11 @Yi-Chiao @Laura_Hag @BenjaminDeb @Buzharevski

The biggest thank you goes out to @SassyDumbledore herself, who created the newest incarnation of Chimp&See and who does ALL the behind the scenes heavy lifting here. She is amazing and I can never thank her enough for all she does to make things run smoothly!

A giant panthoot to The Zooniverse as well for hosting us and helping us with Chimp&See!

Finally, Thanks to YOU for being part of this amazing community and spending your time with us at!

Monday, April 20, 2020

PanAf Algae Fishing Chimps on BBC's 'Primates'

The @BBCOne will be airing the series 'Primates' on Sunday 26th April at 8.15pm. Our algae-fishing chimps are featured in the first episode 'Secrets ­of Survival'. #BBCPrimates

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Ciao a tutti! in italiano!

Ciao a tutti!

Siamo molto felici d'annunciare che il sito web è ora disponibile in italiano! Grazie mille alla nostra moderatrice scientifica (e traduttrice!) Vittoria Estienne che ha fatto la traduzione anche mentre era in Guinea! Per cambiare lingua, usate il menu in alto a destra sul sito web I nostri pensieri sono con tutti in Italia (e con tutti nel mondo!). Speriamo che Chimp&See puo essere un po di distrazione durante questi tempi difficili. Prenditi cura di te!

#coronavirua #covid19 #corona #lavatilemani


Hi everyone!

We are very happy to announce that the website is now available in Italian! Many thanks to our scientific moderator (and translator!) Vittoria Estienne who did the translation while she was in Guinea! To change the language, use the menu on the top right of the website. Our thoughts are with everyone in Italy (and with everyone in the world!). We hope that Chimp&See can be a little distraction during these difficult times. Take care of yourselves!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The very Best of 2019!

2019 has been a great year for Chimp&See. We re-launched our online citizen science project on the new Zooniverse platform after a thinking, tinkering, and testing phase that took us longer than we had hoped it would. But we finished the beta testing in April, tinkered a bit more, and re-opened the Chimp&See project in mid-July 2019 with two new exciting sites: a savannah-woodland research area in West Africa called “Xenon Bloom” and a rainforest habitat, our first in region B and home of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees called “New Dragonfly”.

The project attracted again many volunteers helping us to classify and annotate our video clips. To date, more than 1,700 old and new volunteers are active and made over 300,000 classifications. We already identified quite a number of chimpanzees (see below for the volunteers’ favorite individuals) and could finally study algae fishing in chimpanzees up close with our cameratrap footage.

So, 2019 was quite a highlight for the team!

In December then, we asked you about your “Best of 2019” – your biggest surprise, creepiest and funniest clips, the best camera reaction, and of course your favorite chimpanzees. We compiled all nominations, made poll, and here are the results from your votes:

Favorite chimp(s): Beatrice and Ozzy
After leading the polls right from the beginning our lovely and strong Beatrice has to share the win of the "Chimp of the year 2019" with Ozzy! His votes made a big jump up in the last day. No doubt, he has fans, too. So, we have two winners: Beatrice, a female adult with at least one offspring in tow and Ozzy, an elderly looking adult male, who enjoys his food.

The biggest surprise 

The creepiest clip 

The funniest clip 

And last, but not least: the very best camera reaction 

If you want to see all the nominees check out the nomination playlist or the original Talk thread.

Thanks to all who voted, nominated, classified, and tagged videos at Chimp&See! We hope to see you around furthermore this year. Please come over and discover the secret life of chimpanzees.