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Ruth Thomsen

Ruth Thomsen

Dr Ruth Thomsen

Senior Research Associate

UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London, WC1H 0BW

E-mail: ruth.thomsen@ucl.ac.uk

Research

As a behavioural ecologist, I am interested in the evolution of human and nonhuman primate behaviour. Currently, I am running two projects. Firstly, I am studying the influence of pheromones on catarrhine primate communication and behaviours using GC-MS analysis. This is an area of growing interest, particularly in the contexts of kin recognition and sexual selection theory. Secondly, in collaboration with Volker Sommer from UCL Anthropology, I am reconstructing the evolution of primate female auto-sexual behaviours to better understand the potentially varied functions of the sexual repertoire of our own hominid ancestors.

Professional Career

10/2013–Senior Research Associate, Dept of Anthropology, University College London

10/2009–09/2013 Scientist and Lecturer, Dept of Biology, University of Leipzig (UL) & Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI EVAN)

01/2007–04/2009 Research Associate, Dept of Anthropology, University College London

01/2002–12/2006 Postdoctoral fellow, Institute for Zoo- and Wildlife Research, Berlin

06/2001–12/2001 Postdoctoral fellow, Institute for Zoology, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich

Tertiary Education

1997–2001 PhD Zoology, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich & Kyoto University; PhD thesis: Sperm competition and the function of masturbation in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)

1996 An ecological comparison of the home ranges of two troops of Japanese macaques ranging on Yakushima Island, Japan, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich (Diploma Thesis; MSc equivalent)

1992–1996 Undergraduate studies in Geography, Ecology, Anthropology and Zoology, Ludwig- Maximilians University Munich

1989–1991 Undergraduate studies of Japanese language and culture, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich

Languages: German, English, Japanese

Publications

Thomsen R. (under review). Ageing reduces semen volumes in a wild primate.

Thomsen R*, Birkemeyer C*, Henkel S, Ruiz-Lambides A, Mundry R, Widdig A. (under review). Does body odour contain information on paternal kin in a nonhuman primate? [* both first author]

Birkemeyer C*, Thomsen R*, Ruiz-Lambides A, Widdig A. (under review). The semiochemical repertoire of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).

Henkel S, Thomsen R, Berger, A, Ruiz-Lambides A, Widdig A. (under review). Do rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) recognize group members via olfactory cues alone?

Grimm A, Weiß B, Kulik L, Mihoub JB, Mundry R, Köppen U, Brueckmann T, Thomsen R, Widdig A. (under review). Earlier breeding, lower success: does the spatial scale of climatic conditions matter in a migratory passerine bird?

Thomsen R (2015) How friendships evolve: being alike may matter more than being related. Journal of Brief Ideas. DOI10.5281/zenodo.17279

Thomsen R (2015) How friendships evolve: being alike may matter more than being related. Journal of Brief Ideas. DOI10.5281/zenodo.17279

Thomsen R, Sommer V (2015) Masturbation in nonhuman primates In: The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, First Edition, P Whelehan & A Bolin (eds), Wiley-Blackwell press, Boston

Zschoke A, Thomsen R (2014) Olfactory behaviours in guenons. Folia Primatologica 85(4): 244-251

Thomsen R (2013) Non-invasive semen collection and analysis in wild macaques. Primates 55:231-237

Voigt CC, Klöckner P, Touma C, Neuschl C, Brockmann G, Göritz F, Palme R, Thomsen R (2013) Hormonal stress response of laboratory mice to conventional and minimal-invasive bleeding technique. Animal Welfare 22: 449-455

Thomsen R, Voigt CC (2006) Non-invasive blood sampling from primates using laboratory-bred blood sucking bugs (Dipetalogaster maximus, Reduviidae, Heteroptera). Primates 47: 397-400

Thomsen R, Soltis J, Matsubara M, Matsubayashi K, Onuma M, Takenaka O (2006) How costly are ejaculates for Japanese macaques? Primates 47: 272-274

Thomsen R, Soltis J (2004) Male masturbation in free-ranging Japanese macaques. International Journal of Primatology 25: 1033-1041

Thomsen R, Soltis J, Teltscher C (2003) Sperm competition and the function of male masturbation in non-human primates. In: Sexual Selection and Reproductive Competition in Primates: New Perspectives and Directions, Jones CB (ed.), ASP-Book Series, Special Topics in Primatology, Vol. 3, 436-453

Soltis J, Thomsen R, Takenaka O (2001) The interaction of male and female reproductive strategies and paternity in wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Animal Behaviour 62: 485-494

Soltis J, Takenaka O, Thomsen R (2000) Reproductive strategies and paternity in wild Japanese macaques on Yakushima Island, Japan. American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Suppl. 30): 287

Soltis J, Thomsen R, Matsubayashi K, Takenaka O (2000) Infanticide by resident males and female counter-strategies in wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 48: 195-202

Thomsen R, Soltis J (2000) Socioecological context of parturition in wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) on Yakushima island. International Journal of Primatology 21: 685-696

Thomsen R (1997) Observation of the periparturitional behaviour in wild Yakushima macaques (Macaca fuscata). Folia Primatologica 68: 338-342

Abstracts and Posters

Jänig S, Widdig A, Thomsen R (2015) A comparison of sniffing behaviour in four species of great apes. Conference of the German Primatological Society (GfP), Leipzig, p. 55

Jänig S, Birkemeyer C, Kücklich M, Widdig A, Thomsen R (2015) Analysing body odour of great apes using GC-MS. Conference of the German Primatological Society (GfP), Leipzig, p. 16

Zschoke A, Thomsen R (2013) Olfactory and vocal communication in guenons. Conference of the German Primatological Society (GfP), Hamburg, p. 70

Thomsen R, Voigt CC (2003) Use of blood-sucking bugs (Reduviidae, Heteroptera): a minimal-invasive method to obtain blood from vertebrates for endocrinological and haematological studies. Folia Primatol 74, p. 228

Thomsen R, Voigt CC (2003) Blood-sucking bugs: a gentle and minimal-invasive method for obtaining blood from mammals in endocrinological and haematological studies. Primate Report 66, p. 4

Thomsen R, Voigt CC (2003) Blood-sucking bugs: a minimal-invasive blood sampling method. Conference of the German Primatological Society (GfP), Leipzig, p. 228

Knauf T, Dehnhard M, Ochs A, Hildebrandt TB, Jewgenow K, Thomsen R, Tang C, Göritz F (2002) Chemical signals in giant panda urine. International Symposium on Physiology and Behaviour of Wild and Zoo Animals. Berlin, p. 4

Thomsen R, Stoebel K (2003) Ejaculate quality in felids. Conference of the German Zoological Society (DZG), Berlin, p. 222

von Schweinitz P, Thomsen R (2002) Female Choice in the Pigmy Hedgehog Tenrec. European Conference on Behavioural Biology, Münster, p. 105

Thomsen R (2002) One proximate function of masturbation in primates. Advances in Ethology 37, p. 192

Thomsen R (2002) A non-invasive method of ejaculate monitoring in wild primates. European Conference on Behavioural Biology: Conflict & Resolution. Münster, p. 114

Thomsen R (2000) Sperm in the forest: Why do wild primates masturbate? Folia Primatol 71, p. 213

Soltis J, Thomsen R, Matsubayashi K, Takenaka O (1999) Infanticide in wild Yakushima macaques. Primate Research 15, p. 438

Soltis J, Thomsen R, Matsubayashi K, Takenaka O (1999) Infanticide and female counter strategies in wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui) on Yakushima Island, Japan. Am J Primatol 49, p. 103

Thomsen R (1999) Why do wild primates masturbate? Conference of the German Primatological Society (GfP), Utrecht, p. 56

Invited Talks

2014 Analysing catarrhine primates' body odours with GC-MS: a "non-standardized" method? Shimazu corp., Kyoto

2014 How wild living monkeys die in a predator-free habitat. Dept of Philosophy, University of Regensburg

2013 The scented ape: Chemical signalling in hominids. Dept of Anthropology, University College London

2010 Non-invasive blood sampling from primates through blood sucking bugs. Conference of the International Primatological Society (IPS), Kyoto

2006 Why waste sperm? Evolutionary explanations for masturbation in Japanese macaques. Conference of International Academy of Sex Research (IASR), Amsterdam

2005 Bleeding without stress. Non-invasive blood sampling from primates through blood sucking bugs. Centre for Ecology and Evolution, University College London

2005 Why waste sperm? Evolutionary explanations for primate masturbation. Dept of Anthropology, University College London

2004 Non-invasive methods in behavioural ecology: the use of blood-sucking bugs. Dept of Biology, Humboldt University, Berlin

2003 The sexual conflict and its consequences. Dept of Behavioural Ecology, University of Essen

1999 Sperm in the forest: Why do wild primates masturbate? Conference of the German Primatological Society (GfP), Utrecht

Peer Review

Ad-hoc journal reviews

American Journal of Primatology, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology; Behavioural Processes; Chemical Senses; Ethology; Folia Primatologica; International Journal of Primatology; Journal of Comparative Psychology; Journal of Reproduction and Fertility; PLoS Biology; Primates; Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B; Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology

Grants

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS); Austrian Science Fund (FWF); The Leakey Foundation

Consulting

National Geographic; GEO; Galileo

Teaching

2009-2013 University of Leipzig: Practical classes in zoology (BSc); Introduction to behavioural ecology (BSc); Introduction to statistics and the use of R (BSc); Primate behavioural ecology and evolution (MSc)

2006-2008 Humboldt University Berlin; Primate behavioural ecology and evolution (MSc)

1996-1998 Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich; Practical classes in zoology (BSc); Practical classes in primate behavioural ecology (BSc)

Supervision

PhD

Anja Zschoke (2013 ~ ongoing) Olfactory communication in bonobos

Susann Schunack (2013 ~ ongoing) Chemical signalling in chimpanzees

Stefanie Henkel (2010-2012) Kin recognition by olfactory cues in rhesus macaques

MSc / Diplomarbeiten

Mirjam Minkner (2013) In the eyes of the opponent – measuring kinship information in rhesus macaque faces

Anja Zschoke (2013) Are there shared semiochemicals among offspring and parents in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus)?

Anna Slama (2013) A comparison of chemical signalling in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and bonobos (Pan paniscus)

Susann Schunack (2012) Method development to assess olfactory profiles via GC-MS analysis in great apes

Franziska Stock (2012) The influence of dietary energy and macronutrients on the feeding of great apes

Anke Eckhardt (2011) Olfactory predator recognition in five species of cercopithecines

Stephan Grambauer (2011) The role of parasites in the evolution and maintenance of animal personalities

Kati Drechsel (2011) Evaluation and comparison of different STR markers using fragment analysis (ABI 3130xl) and QIAxcel (Qiagen)

Charlotte Frearson (2005) Masturbation in male primates: taxonomic distribution; proximate causes and potential evolutionary function

Elena Jones (2005) Masturbation in female primates: taxonomic distribution; proximate causes and potential evolutionary function

Pola von Schweinitz (2001) Female choice in the pygmy hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi)

Tobias Merkle (1998) Ranging behaviour in wild Yakushima macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui)

BSc

Peggy Weist (2013) A comparative study on olfactory behaviour in great apes

Katja Rudolph (2013) Age-dependent differences in olfactory behaviour in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus)

Josepha Messenbrink (2013) Comparing pairwise relatedness of known pedigrees with estimated relatedness using genetic markers

Sophie Brodführer (2012) Optimizing of PCR conditions for microsatellite typing of low quality samples

Yvonne Hollek (2012) Visual phenotype matching: Do faces contain more information about paternity than about maternity? A resemblance study on rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Julia Unger (2011) Can men perceive the cycle phases of women via olfactory cues?

Anja Zschoke (2011) Vocal and olfactory communication in three species of guenons

Anne-Christine Auge (2011) Kinship analysis in rhesus macaques using PCR and STR markers

Sarah Nagel (2011) Paternity analysis in rhesus macaques in combination with demographic data

Grants and awards

1993-2013 Shimazu corp., Suzuki corp., Kyocera corp., Canon corp., Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (€44,000.00)

2005 German top-ten winner of the McKinsey business plan tournament (easyblood corp.)

2004-2005 Stipend from the city of Berlin for women in science (€31,500.00)

2003-2005 EEF-fond, German Ministry for Education and Science (BMBF), Postdoctoral fellowship (€198,000.00)

2002-2004 German Science Foundation (co-applicant; €87,500.00)

1996-1999 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), PhD fellowship (€42,500.00)

1994-1995 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Travel stipend (€2,200.00)

1988 National winner of the students’ competition, category “Foreign language Japanese” (Bundeswettbewerb Fremdsprachen Japanisch), supported by the Japanese and German governments (€750,00)

Current Collaborations

Claudia Birkemeyer, University of Leipzig

Barbara Fruth, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich

Stephan Grambauer, University of Leicester

Angelina Ruiz-Lambides, University of Puerto Rico

Joseph Soltis, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Science Team

Volker Sommer, University College London

Hideki Sugiura, Kyoto University

Christian Voigt, Leibniz Institute for Zoo- and Wildlife Research


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