Sumir Keenan

Does the social fabric of bonobo groups shape their vocal communication pattern?

I am interested in the communication and cognition of non-human primates. By researching primate communication I would like to contribute to a greater understanding of our closest living relatives and to help establish how human language evolved. This past year I have been researching male Campbell’s monkeys alarm calls, which have demonstrated rudimentary forms of grammar and referentiality. For my PhD, co-supervised by Dr. Florence Levréro, Prof. Nicolas Mathevon (Uni. of Saint-Etienne) and Prof. Klaus Zuberbühler (UniNE), I will be studying the importance of vocal communication in the social relationships of captive bonobos. Specifically, I will be investigating whether bonobos are capable of vocal mimicry and if this call matching facilitates the social integration of new group members.


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Sumir Keenan