Brittany Fallon

Gestural Communication as Courtship in Wild Chimpanzees

Under the joint supervision of Klaus Zuberbühler (UniNE) and Richard Byrne (University of St Andrews), I research the communication of wild eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) during courtship. Chimpanzees attract mates using sexual displays of manual and bodily movements. These displays can be complex, a multitude of actions combined; or they can be subtle, a single movement to catch the attention of a potential mate. Both males and females use these courtship behaviours, ‘sexual solicitations,’ prior to copulation. The goal of this research is to define the repertoire of gestures used during courtship, the structure of sexual displays, and the process by which chimpanzees learn courtship behaviours. My research is conducted with the Sonso chimpanzee community at the Budongo Conservation Field Station, located in Masindi, Uganda.