Julian Leon

Research interest

My research interest lies in understanding the evolutionary, ecological, and social processes and learning mechanisms of primate communication, especially in the vocal mode. Vocal communication is a fundamental component for understanding animal behavior, especially in species that live in complex societies, such as primates. There is now plenty of evidence that primates have some degree of vocal flexibility, that they are able to modify the acoustic structure of some of their calls, and that vocal signals are used in intentional and referential ways. However, little systematic and comparative research has been carried out to understand how non-human primates acquire their communicative skills.

I have conducted diverse field studies that aimed to elucidate several aspects of the ecology, behavior, vocal communication, and grouping patterns of different neotropical primate species, as brown spider monkeys (Ateles hybridus), red uakaris (Cacajao calvus), and woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagothricha lugens).

My PhD will explore the vocal learning in sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) by using observational and experimental methods to investigate how call structure and sound-meaning linkages are established and socially learned in sooty mangabeys. This research is part of a broad project investigating through a comparative approach how primates acquire the ability to socially learn to communicate. This project will be part of the Taï Monkey Project and the field work will be carried out at Taï National Park, Ivory Coast.

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Université de Neuchâtel
Institut de Biologie
Cognition Comparée
Rue Emile-Argand 11
2000 Neuchâtel


Bureau B23, bâtiment G