Auriane Le Floch

Research interests

I am interested in non-human primate communication and particularly in unravelling call meanings in their vocal system. During my PhD, I am going to focus on the meaning of call combination by studying two habituated groups of sooty mangabeys in the Taï National Park (Ivory Coast).

Some primate species can combine their calls to create new meaning, which has been recently defined as compositionality. But what are the evolutionary drivers behind the emergence of compositionality in primates? Complex social systems, for example, are suggested to promote intricate and flexible vocal communication to manage social interactions. Moreover, an expansion of vocal systems might be expected in habitats where poor visibility prevents group members from maintaining group cohesion through visual contact and/or limits effective signalling of the location of predators, such as rainforests. To explore the idea that forest environments can act as a driver of compositionality in social primates, I will test if sooty mangabeys, a highly social forest monkey species, can produce meaningful call combinations. These results, compared with previous and ongoing studies on animal compositionality, will shed light on the evolution of complex communicative systems leading to human syntax.

I am supervised by Klaus Zuberbühler, Cathy Crockford (ISC Marc Jeannerod, Uni Lyon 1), Roman Wittig (MPI EVA, Leipzig) and Steven Moran (Language evolution lab, Unine).


Mangabey (9).jpg

© Alba Hendier


Le Floch, A., Bouchard, A., Gallot, Q., & Zuberbühler, K. (2021). Lesser spot-nosed monkeys coordinate alarm call production with associated Campbell’s monkeys. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology75(8), 1-14. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-021-03053-w

PhD student



Twitter: @aurianefloch


Bureau B27, bâtiment G

Laboratoire de cognition comparée

Institut de Biologie

Université de Neuchâtel
Rue Emile-Argand 11
2000 Neuchâtel