Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Gesture use in communication between mothers and offspring in wild orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) from the Sabangau peat-swamp forest, Borneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Andrea Knox, Joey Markx, Emma How, Abdul Azis, Catherine Hobaiter, Frank J.F. van Veen, Helen Morrogh-Bernard

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Research on captive and wild great apes has established that they employ large repertoires of intentional gestural signals to achieve desired goals. However, gestural research has focused on African great apes, with orang-utan data limited to a few captive studies. We address this gap by describing gesture use in wild Southwest Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) mother and offspring pairs. We conducted focal follows on 16 individuals in the Sabangau peat-swamp forest in Borneo, Indonesia. The resulting 681 hours of video footage yielded 1,299 communicative signals: 858 vocal signals and 441 gestural signals. Eleven vocal signal types and twenty-one gesture types met the criterion for inclusion in the repertoire; however, the repertoire did not approach asymptote and further gesture types will likely be identified in the future. Signallers used gestures of any modality in higher frequency when the recipient was paying visual attention, and took the recipient’s visual attention into account when selecting gesture modalities. Orang-utans employed hands and arms more than legs and feet in gesturing, but were more flexible in their choice of limb than chimpanzees using the same gestures. Orang-utans were highly responsive to gestural requests, using them to achieve eight goals and, where successful, responding either before gesturing ended or in under 1-second in 90% of communications. Our findings on the range of gesture types and impact of visual attention support findings from captive orang-utans; and those on responsiveness and limb-use highlight the importance of studying ape communication in the social and ecological context to which it is adapted.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393–416
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Volume40
Early online date24 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

    Research areas

  • Pongo, Gesture, Vocal, Signal modality, Attention state, Responsiveness

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. The function of chimpanzee greeting calls is modulated by their acoustic variation

    Fedurek, P., Tkaczynski, P. J., Hobaiter, C., Zuberbühler, K., Wittig, R. M. & Crockford, C., Apr 2021, In: Animal Behaviour. 174, p. 279-289 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Patterns of urinary cortisol levels during ontogeny appear population specific rather than species specific in wild chimpanzees and bonobos

    Tkaczynski, P. J., Behringer, V., Ackermann, C. Y., Fedurek, P., Fruth, B., Girard-Buttoz, C., Hobaiter, C., Lee, S. M., Löhrich, T., Preis, A., Samuni, L., Zommers, Z., Zuberbühler, K., Deschner, T., Wittig, R. M., Hohmann, G. & Crockford, C., Oct 2020, In: Journal of Human Evolution. 147, 12 p., 102869.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Cat Hobaiter

    Hobaiter, C., 17 Aug 2020, In: Current Biology. 30, 16, p. R912-R914

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. A review of factors to consider when using camera traps to study animal behavior to inform wildlife ecology and conservation

    Caravaggi, A., Burton, A. C., Clark, D. A., Fisher, J. T., Grass, A., Green, S., Hobaiter, C., Hofmeester, T. R., Kalan, A. K., Rabaiotti, D. & Rivet, D., 19 Jun 2020, (E-pub ahead of print) In: Conservation Science and Practice. Early View, 9 p., e239.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Chimpanzee lip-smacks confirm primate continuity for speech-rhythm evolution

    Pereira, A. S., Kavanagh, E., Hobaiter, C., Slocombe, K. E. & R. Lameira, A., 27 May 2020, In: Biology Letters. 16, 5, 20200232.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. International Journal of Primatology (Journal)

    Kate Arnold (Reviewer)

    2004 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Food-offering calls in wild golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia): evidence for teaching behavior?

    Troisi, C. A., Hoppitt, W. J., Ruiz-Miranda, C. R. & Laland, K. N., 21 Nov 2018, (E-pub ahead of print) In: International Journal of Primatology. First Online, 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Impact of snare injuries on parasite prevalence in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

    Yersin, H., Asiimwe, C., Voordouw, M. J. & Zuberbühler, K., Feb 2017, In: International Journal of Primatology. 38, 1, p. 21-30 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Female bonds and kinship in forest guenons

    Candiotti, A., Coye, C., Ouattara, K., Petit, E. J., Vallet, D., Zuberbühler, K. & Lemasson, A., Apr 2015, In: International Journal of Primatology. 36, 2, p. 332-352

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 259064315

Top