Conservation & Science Staff Bios

David Morgan, Ph.D.

  Resarch Fellow, Co-Director of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes


  • Ph.D. – Biological Anthropology, Cambridge University, U.K.
  • B.S. – Biology, Western Carolina University

Areas of Expertise

  • Chimpanzee ecology and behavior
  • Environmental influence on African great apes
  • Lowland forest ecology
  • Gorilla and chimpanzee conservation

About David Morgan:

David began his research and conservation career in 1997 as an assistant in the Republic of Congo, where he collected behavioral data on western lowland gorillas with Mbeli Bai Gorilla Project in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. After two years, he initiated the Goualougo Triangle Chimpanzee Project to expand our understanding of the little-known central subspecies of chimpanzee. This groundbreaking study has led to numerous discoveries in chimpanzee behavior, ecology, tool-use and conservation needs. His investigation of the social structure, spatial distribution and feeding ecology of three neighbouring communities of chimpanzees was the focus of his graduate research at Cambridge University, U.K.

For more than a decade, David and his partner in life, Crickette Sanz, Ph.D., have co-directed what is now the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project. It is one of a few sites in all of Africa to include focused studies on sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas.

Concerned about the fate of our closest living relations, he has made evaluating the impact of mechanized logging on chimpanzees and gorillas a primary interest. David believes concrete strategies to safeguard apes in logging concessions are attainable and every effort should be made to develop, implement and evaluate them.

While he’s involved in numerous exciting, collaborative studies that will continue to improve our understanding of the behavior, ecology and health of these endangered species, he considers the greatest achievement thus far to be his involvement in securing the annexation of the Goualougo Triangle onto Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in 2003. The pristine forests of the Goualougo and the apes that make their home there are nothing short of a priceless heirloom—with a rich legacy we are only beginning to know.


Lesnik, J. J., C. M. Sanz and D. B. Morgan. 2015. The Interdigital Brace and Other Grips for Termite Nest Perforation by Chimpanzees of the Goualougo Triangle, Republic of Congo. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157(2): 252-259.

Fuenfstueck, T., M. Arandjelovic, D. B. Morgan, C. Sanz, P. Reed, S. H. Olson, K. Cameron, A. Ondzie, M. Peeters and L. Vigilant. 2015. The Sampling Scheme Matters: Pan troglodytes troglodytes and P-t. schweinfurthii Are Characterized by Clinal Genetic Variation Rather Than a Strong Subspecies Break. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 156(2): 181-191.

Furuichi, T., C. Sanz, K. Koops, T. Sakamaki, H. Ryu, N. Tokuyama and D. Morgan. 2015. Why do wild bonobos not use tools like chimpanzees do?. Behaviour 152(3-4): 425-460.

Liu, W. M., Y. Y. Li, K. S. Shaw, G. H. Learn, L. J. Plenderleith, J. A. Malenke, S. A. Sundararaman, M. A. Ramirez, P. A. Crystal, A. G. Smith, F. Bibollet-Ruche, A. Ayouba, S. Locatelli, A. Esteban, F. Mouacha, E. Guichet, C. Butel, S. Ahuka-Mundeke, B. I. Inogwabini, J. B. N. Ndjango, S. Speede, C. M. Sanz, D. B. Morgan, M. K. Gonder, P. J. Kranzusch, P. D. Walsh, A. V. Georgiev, M. N. Muller, A. K. Piel, F. A. Stewart, M. L. Wilson, A. E. Pusey, L. W. Cui, Z. L. Wang, A. Farnert, C. J. Sutherland, D. Nolder, J. A. Hart, T. B. Hart, P. Bertolani, A. Gillis, M. LeBreton, B. Tafon, J. Kiyang, C. F. Djoko, B. S. Schneider, N. D. Wolfe, E. Mpoudi-Ngole, E. Delaporte, R. Carter, R. L. Culleton, G. M. Shaw, J. C. Rayner, M. Peeters, B. H. Hahn and P. M. Sharp. 2014. African origin of the malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax. Nature Communications 5: 10.

Sanz, C. M., I. Deblauwe, N. Tagg and D. B. Morgan. 2014. Insect prey characteristics affecting regional variation in chimpanzee tool use. Journal of Human Evolution 71: 28-37.

Wilson, M. L., Boesch, C., Fruth, B., Furuichi, T., Gilby, I. C., Hashimoto, C., … Wrangham, R. W. 2014. Lethal aggression in Pan is better explained by adaptive strategies than human impacts. Nature, 513(7518), 414–417. doi:10.1038/nature13727.

Tranquilli, S., M. Abedi-Lartey, K. Abernethy, F. Amsini, A. Asamoah, C. Balangtaa, S. Blake, E. Bouanga, T. Breuer, T. M. Brncic, G. Campbell, R. Chancellor, C. A. Chapman, T. R. B. Davenport, A. Dunn, J. Dupain, A. Ekobo, M. Eno-Nku, G. Etoga, T. Furuichi, S. Gatti, A. Ghiurghi, C. Hashimoto, J. A. Hart, J. Head, M. Hega, I. Herbinger, T. C. Hicks, L. H. Holbech, B. Huijbregts, H. S. Kuhl, I. Imong, S. L.-D. Yeno, J. Linder, P. Marshall, P. M. Lero, D. Morgan, L. Mubalama, P. K. N'Goran, A. Nicholas, S. Nixon, E. Normand, L. Nziguyimpa, Z. Nzooh-Dongmo, R. Ofori-Amanfo, B. G. Ogunjemite, C.-A. Petre, H. J. Rainey, S. Regnaut, O. Robinson, A. Rundus, C. M. Sanz, D. T. Okon, A. Todd, Y. Warren and V. Sommer. 2014. Protected Areas in Tropical Africa: Assessing Threats and Conservation Activities. Plos One 9(12): DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114154.

Fuenfstueck, T., M. Arandjelovic, D. B. Morgan, C. Sanz, T. Breuer, E. J. Stokes, P. Reed, S. H. Olson, K. Cameron, A. Ondzie, M. Peeters, H. S. Kuehl, C. Cipolletta, A. Todd, S. Masi, D. M. Doran-Sheehy, B. J. Bradley and L. Vigilant. 2014. The Genetic Population Structure of Wild Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Living in Continuous Rain Forest. American Journal of Primatology 76(9): 868-878.

Hopper, L.M., Morgan, D.B., & Ross, S.R. 2014. The next direction for primatology? A commentary on Setchell (2013). International Journal of Primatology. 35(2), 341-348.

Bryne RW, Sanz CM and Morgan DB 2013. Chimpanzees plan their tool use. In: Sanz CM, Call J, Boesch C (eds), Tool use in animals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.

Morgan, D., Sanz, C., Greer, D., Rayden, T., Maisels, F. & Williamson, E.A. 2013. Great Apes and FSC: Implementing ‘Ape Friendly’ Practices in Central Africa’s Logging Concessions. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. 36 pp.

Sanz, S., Morgan, D. 2013. The social context of chimpanzee tool use. In: Sanz, C., Call, J., Boesch, C. (Eds.), Tool use in animals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.

Morgan, D.B., Sanz, C.M., Onononga, J.R., Eyana Ayina, C., Strindberg, S. 2012. Great Apes and Mechanized Logging in the Kabo Concession. In Clark, C. J. and Poulsen, J. R. (Eds.). Tropical Forest Conservation and Industry Partnership: An Experience from the Congo Basin Conservation Science and Practice. Conservation and Science Practice, Wiley-Blackwell.

Vallo, P., Petrželková, K.J., Profousová, I., Petrášová, J., Pomajbíková, K., Leendertz, F., Hashimoto, C., Simmons, N., Babweteera, F., Machanda, Z., Piel, A., Robbins, M., Boesch, C., Sanz, C., Morgan, D., Sommer, V., Furuichi, T., Fujita, S., Matsuzawa, T.H., M.A., Modrý, D. 2012. Molecular diversity of entodiniomorphid ciliate Troglodytella abrassarti and evaluation of its coevolution with chimpanzees. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Morgan, D.B., Sanz, C.M., Stokes, E.J. 2012. The Importance of Set Aside Areas for the Conservation of Great Apes in the Ndoki Region: Preservation of the Goualougo and Djeke Triangle Forests. In Clark, C. J. and Poulsen, J. R. (Eds.). Tropical Forest Conservation and Industry Partnership: An Experience from the Congo Basin Conservation Science and Practice. Conservation and Science Practice, Wiley-Blackwell.

Sanz, C., Morgan D.B. (2011). Elemental variation in the termite fishing of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Biological Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0088. 2011. Elemental variation in the termite fishing of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). .

Gillespie, T.R., Morgan, D., Deutsch, J. C., Kuhlenschmidt, M. S., Salzer, J. S., Cameron, K., Reed, T., Sanz, C.   2010. A Legacy of Low-Impact Logging does not Elevate Prevalence of Potentially Pathogenic Protozoa in Free-Ranging Gorillas and Chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo: Logging and Parasitism in African Apes. EcoHealth, 6: 557-564.

Sanz, C., Schöning, C. Morgan, D. 2010. Chimpanzees prey on army ants with specialized tool set. American Journal of Primatology, 71:1–8.

Sanz, C., Morgan, D. B. 2010. Complexity of chimpanzee tool using behaviors. In: The Mind of the Chimpanzee: Ecological and Experimental Perspectives (Ed. by Lonsdorf, E. V., Ross, S. R. & Matsuzawa, T.. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. pp. 127-140.

Neel, C., Etienne, L., Li, Y. Y., Takehisa, J., Rudicell, R. S., Bass, I. N., Moudindo, J., Mebenga, A., Esteban, A., Van Heuverswyn, F., Liegeois, F., Kranzusch, P. J., Walsh, P. D., Sanz, C. M., Morgan, D. B., Ndjango, J. B. N., Plantier, J. C., Locatelli, S., Gonder, M. K., Leendertz, F. H., Boesch, C., Todd, A., Delaporte, E., Mpoudi-Ngole, E., Hahn, B. H. Peeters, M. 2010. Molecular Epidemiology of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection in Wild-Living Gorillas. Journal of Virology, 84(3): 1464-1476.

Liu, W., Li, Y., Learn, G. H., Rudicell, R. S., Robertson, J. D., Ndjango, J. B. N., Sanz, C. M., Morgan, D. B., Locatelli, S., Gonder, M. K., Kranzusch, P. J., Walsh, P. D., Delaporte, E., Mpoudi-Ngolle, E., Georgiev, A. V., Muller, M. N., Shaw, G. M., Peeters, M., Sharp, P. M., Rayner, J. C., Hahn, B. H. 2010. Origin of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla). Nature, 467: 420-427.

Sanz, C., Call, J., and Morgan, D.  2009. Design complexity in termite-fishing tools of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Biology Letters, 5: 293-296.

Sanz, C. M. and Morgan, D. B. 2009. Flexible and Persistent Tool-using Strategies in Honey-gathering by Wild Chimpanzees. International Journal of Primatology, 30: 411-427.

Morgan, D.B. and Sanz, C.M. 2007. Best Practice Guidelines for Reducing the Impact of Commercial Logging on Great Apes in Western Equatorial Africa. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group (PSG). 32 pp.

Sanz, C.M. and Morgan, D.B. 2007. Chimpanzee tool technology in the Goualougo Triangle, Republic of Congo. Journal of Human Evolution, 52(4): 420-433.

Sanz, C.M, Morgan, D.B., Strindberg, S., and Onononga, J.R. 2007. Distinguishing between the nests of sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas. Journal of Applied Ecology, 44(2): 263-272.

Walsh, P.D., Breuer,T., Sanz, C.M., Morgan, D.B., and Doran-Sheehy, D. 2007. Potential for Ebola transmission between gorilla and chimpanzee social groups. American Naturalist, 169(5): 684-689.