Fredy Quintero

Audience effect in sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys)

The ability to take others into account during the act of communication is an important feature in human language. Although, there is evidence of the audience effects in several taxa in the animal kingdom, is not known if the signalers consider the social consequences of communicating to different audiences. Apes are able to adjust signal production depending on the attention state of the receiver, but if this is restricted to limited contexts or if this is a characteristic presented generally during communication is something that needs to be assessed properly. Another remaining question is if this is a general feature in primate cognition or it is present just in some species.

Sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) are forest dweller monkeys that live in groups of around 100 individuals, with a very complex social and vocal system. Our goal is to explore the nature and content of audience effects in sooty mangabeys by using both observational and experimental techniques to evaluate the communication signals of sooty mangabeys in the presence of different audiences when facing natural situations: encountering group members, resolving conflicts, dealing with predators and discovering food. The calling elicit event will be simulated positioning food or a predator model and the audience will be altered playing back recordings of other individuals. The vocal responses of the mangabeys to the different scenarios proposed, and the way they modify them, will provide an insight of how natural selection might have favored the evolution of the underlying cognitive abilities necessaries for language.
This project is supervised by Professor Klaus Zuberbühler.
The field work takes place in Camp Noë (Tai Monkey Project) in Ivory Coast.

WCS Colombia (Wildlife Conservation Society)



Fredy Quintero


Fredy Quintero.JPG

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

room B027 (Batiment G)

Associated Researcher of WCS Colombia