Adrian Soldati

Research interests

Ontogeny and flexibility of wild chimpanzee vocal behaviours

How do our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, learn to communicate with each other? How flexible and socially mediated is their vocal development?

The main aim of my project is to investigate the ontogeny of pant hoots, the characteristic and socially used long-distance call of wild chimpanzees. This vocal sequence is arguably their most complex call, composed by four acoustically distinct elements, which are typically used by group members to maintain contact and coordinate between distant parties. My research focuses on how the ontogeny of vocal production, usage, and comprehension are affected by individual and social factors in young chimpanzees. In addition, I am interested in how pant hoots come to be, change over time, and how flexible its complex structure is.

I collected data in the Budongo forest (Uganda) from chimpanzees of all ages and sexes in the Sonso community. I explored how flexible is the production of pant hoots in determined social contexts and how flexible are the responses of individuals after hearing others’ calls depending on the audience composition and other social factors. I adopted different methods of data collection, including novel infrared thermography and playback experiments, combined with natural observations. The ultimate goal of my study is to provide new insights in the domain of non-human primate communication as well as in the emergence and evolution of human language using a comparative approach.

My research project is co-supervised by Prof Klaus Zuberbühler and Prof Josep Call (University of St Andrews). Previously, I have worked on gestural and multi-signal communication in Waibira and Sonso chimpanzees (Budongo).


Curriculum Vitae




2022. Soldati, A., Fedurek, P., Crockford, C., Adue, S., Akankwasa, J. W., Asiimwe, C., Asua, J., Atayo, G., Chandia, B., Freymann, E., Fryns, C., Muhumuza G., Taylor, D., Zuberbühler, K., Hobaiter, C. Dead infant carrying by chimpanzee mothers in the Budongo Forest. Primates. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-022-00999-x

2022. Soldati, A., Fedurek, P., Dezecache, G., Call, J., Zuberbühler, K. Audience  sensitivity in chimpanzee display pant hoots. Animal Behaviour. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347222001439?via%3Dihub

2022. Wilke, C.*, Lahiff, N. J.*, Badihi, G., Donnellan, E., Hobaiter, C., Machanda, Z., Mundry, R., Pika, S., Soldati, A., Wrangham, R., Zuberbühler, K., Slocombe, K.E. Referential gestures are not ubiquitous in wild chimpanzees: alternative functions for exaggerated loud scratch gestures. Animal Behaviour. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347222001014?via%3Dihub

2022. De Vevey, M., Bouchard A., Soldati, A., Zuberbühler, K. Thermal imaging reveals audience-dependent effects during cooperation and competition in wild chimpanzees. Scientific Reports. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-07003-y

2019. Kersken, V., Gómez, J. C., Liszkowski, U., Soldati, A., & Hobaiter, C. A gestural repertoire of 1-to 2-year-old human children: in search of the ape gestures. Animal Cognition. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347222001439?via%3Dihub


Google Scholar 



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PhD student




Tel: +41 79 395 53 18


Bureau B25, bâtiment G

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