Call combinations in chimpanzees : a social tool?
MetadataShow full item record
A growing body of evidence suggests the capacity for animals to combine calls into larger communicative structures is more common than previously assumed. Despite its cross-taxa prevalence, little is known regarding the evolutionary pressures driving such combinatorial abilities. One dominant hypothesis posits that social complexity and vocal complexity are linked, with changes in social structuring (e.g., group size) driving the emergence of ever-more complex vocal abilities, such as call sequencing. In this paper, we tested this hypothesis through investigating combinatoriality in the vocal system of the highly social chimpanzee. Specifically, we predicted combinatoriality to be more common in socially-driven contexts and in females and lower-ranked males (socially challenging contexts and socially challenged individuals respectively). Firstly, through applying methods from computational linguistics (i.e., collocation analyses), we built an objective repertoire of combinatorial structures in this species. Second, we investigated what potential factors influenced call combination production. We show that combinatoriality is predominant in 1) social contexts vs. non-social contexts, 2) females vs. males, and 3) negatively correlates with male rank. Together, these results suggest one function of combinatoriality in chimpanzees may be to help individuals navigate their dynamic social world. More generally, we argue these findings provide support for the hypothesized link between social and vocal complexity and can provide insight into the evolution of our own highly combinatorial communication system, language.
Leroux , M , Chandia , B , Bosshard , A B , Zuberbühler , K & Townsend , S W 2022 , ' Call combinations in chimpanzees : a social tool? ' , Behavioral Ecology , vol. 33 , no. 5 , arac074 , pp. 1036-1043 . https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arac074
Copyright © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arac074
DescriptionFunding: This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (PP00P3_163850 & PP00P3_198912) to S.W.T. and the National Center of Competence in Research Evolving Language (SNSF Agreement #51NF40_180888).
Items in the St Andrews Research Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.