Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The development of communication in alarm contexts in wild chimpanzees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Animals have evolved a range of communicative behaviours in the presence of danger. Although the mechanisms and functions of some of these behaviours have been relatively well researched, comparatively little is known about their ontogeny, including how animals learn to inform social partners about impending danger. In adult chimpanzees, behaviours in response to dangers involve several channels, particularly alarm calls and simultaneous gaze alternations with nearby recipients. Gaze alternations may allow inexperienced individuals to learn from more experienced ones by assessing their reactions to unfamiliar objects or events, but they may also provide the basis for more advanced social referencing. Here, we were interested in the development of these two common behaviours, alarm calling and gaze alternations, in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) confronted with a threat. Using a cross-sectional design, we investigated those in 8 infant and 8 juveniles by experimentally exposing them to an unfamiliar but potentially dangerous object, a large, remotely controlled, moving spider model. For alarm calling, we found a positive relation with age, starting at around 28 months, although alarm calls were not consistently emitted until after 80 months. For gaze alternations, we found no age effect, with some of the youngest infants already showing the behaviour. Although its function remains unclear in infant and juvenile chimpanzees, gaze alternations emerge early in chimpanzee development. Alarm calling may require more advanced developmental stages, such as greater perceptual abilities, categorical capacities or more sophisticated social cognition, i.e. an understanding that danger is a collective experience that requires communication.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number104
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume73
Early online date6 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

    Research areas

  • Social learning, Social cognition, Alarm calling, Gaze, Pan troglodytes

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

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Syntax and compositionality in animal communication

    Zuberbuhler, K., 18 Nov 2019, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 375, 1789, 20190062.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Maternal cannibalism in two populations of wild chimpanzees

    Fedurek, P., Tkaczynski, P., Asiimwe, C., Hobaiter, C., Samuni, L., Lowe, A. E., Dijrian, A. G., Zuberbühler, K., Wittig, R. M. & Crockford, C., 5 Oct 2019, In : Primates. First Online, 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Social learning of arbitrary food preferences in bonobos

    Shorland, G., Genty, E., Guéry, J-P. & Zuberbuhler, K., Oct 2019, In : Behavioural Processes. 167, 103912.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Animal syntax

    Suzuki, T. N. & Zuberbühler, K., 22 Jul 2019, In : Current Biology. 29, 14, p. R669-R671

    Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

  5. Necessity creates opportunities for chimpanzee tool use

    Grund, C., Neumann, C., Zuberbuehler, K. & Gruber, T., Jul 2019, In : Behavioral Ecology. 30, 4, p. 1136-1144 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Journal)

    Monica Arso Civil (Reviewer)
    15 Dec 2016 → …

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

  2. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Journal)

    Luke Edward Rendell (Editor)
    2015 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Journal)

    Kate Arnold (Reviewer)
    2007 → …

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

  4. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Journal)

    Vincent Janik (Member of editorial board)
    20052014

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  5. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Journal)

    Anne Magurran (Editor)
    19972002

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. A review of thanatosis (death feigning) as an anti-predator behaviour

    Humphreys, R. K. & Ruxton, G. D., Feb 2018, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72, 16 p., 22.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Circular data in biology: advice for effectively implementing statistical procedures

    Landler, L., Ruxton, G. D. & Malkemper, E. P., Aug 2018, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72, 8, 10 p., 128.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Contextual encoding in titi monkey alarm call sequences

    Berthet, M., Neumann, C., Mesbahi, G., Cäsar Damas, C. & Zuberbuhler, K., Jan 2018, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72, 11 p., 8.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. First-year sperm whale calves echolocate and perform long, deep dives

    Tønnesen, P., Gero, S., Ladegaard, M., Johnson, M. & Madsen, P. T., Oct 2018, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 72, 165.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 259325937

Top