Gema Palacino-González

Doctoral Student

Wildlife Research Center


We, humans, create new relationships in our daily lives. It is part of our social nature. However, the value of these relationships is not always the same: we tend to be more compatible with certain friends, while others end up being mere acquaintances. The quality of these bonds has an ultimate effect on how we interact with others. How is this case for nonhuman animals? Moreover, how do differential relationships influence an individual’s daily social activities? This fact along with my curiosity for animals drove my attention to research about the cognitive bases and factors affecting social bond maintenance in nonhuman species. I am interested in understanding how conspecific communication works inside the social group, and I am researching on horses to understand these questions.


Grants & Scholarships

MEXT Research Scholarship

Oct 2021 - Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology


(2021) M.Ed. in Secondary Education, Concentration: Biological Sciences, Department of Education, University of Extremadura.

(2019) M.Sc. in Biology, Concentration: Animal Communication and Behavior, Marine Research Centre, University of Southern Denmark.

(2017) B.Sc. in Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Extremadura.

Current Projects

I am a current member of Yamamoto’s laboratory at Wildlife Research Center. For my current project, we are focusing on studying how social relationships modulate cooperative activities in group-living horses (Equus caballus), in special, allogrooming behavior. Apart from playing a hygienic role and reducing heart rate, allogrooming serves in building and reinforcing relationships between group members. I am particularly interested in understanding how commitment is achieved before allogrooming, which communicative signals individuals use to engage in such cooperation and how this agreement is influenced by the social context of each individual inside its group. In further studies, I am interested in investigating the developmental changes and the effect of personality on this capability.

Selected Publications

Conference presentation(s)

Palacino, G., Yamamoto, S. Comparative studies on the social behaviour of magpies and domestic horses. The 16th International Symposium on Primatology and Wildlife Science, Japan, online (poster). September, 2021

Palacino, G., Ortiz, S., Wahlberg, M. The Development of Mother-Calf Interactions in Wild Harbour Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) Studied with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The 15th International Symposium on Primatology and Wildlife Science, Japan, online (poster). March, 2021

Palacino, G., Ortiz, S., Wahlberg, M. Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) mother-calf behaviour revealed by drone observations. World Marine Mammal Conference, poster. December, 2019

Palacino, G., Ortiz, S., Wahlberg, M. Drones as a tool to study the social lives of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the wild. Danish Marine Mammal Conference, poster. January, 2019


Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University

email: gema [dot] gonzalez [dot] 38m [at] st [dot] kyoto-u [dot] ac [dot] jp