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Mélissa Berthet

study site

Research interest

Comparing the vocal behaviour of different species of primates can help
to understand the evolution of the human language. The study of primate
alarm calls is a promising field of interest to investigate some of the basic
capacities required for language. New World monkeys are an independent
radiation within the primate lineage and studies on their vocal capacities
have already shown interesting results. For example, it has been shown
that Black-Fronted titi monkeys Callicebus nigrifrons can encode both
the type and location of the predator in the 30 first soft calls of the alarm
sequence (Cäsar et al., 2013). One call (A-call) is typically given to aerial
predators, while another call (B-call) is broadly given to disturbances from
the ground, including non-predatory contexts (Cäsar et al., 2012a). During
raptor encounters, the location of the predator was revealed by presence
or absence of B-calls within the series of A-calls, while the oncilla location
was conveyed by presence or absence of a single A-call at the beginning
of the B-call serie (Cäsar et al., 2013).

My project aims to investigate the factors influencing the structure of the
alarm call sequences, and the way receivers understand these sequences,
using presentation of stuffed predators and playback experiments. Firstly,
I aim to study (i) if titi monkeys can understand both the location and the
type of predator conveyed through the alarm sequence, (ii) if there are
acoustic differences between the B-calls emitted during predatory and non-
predatory contexts and if these differences are relevant for the monkeys,
(iii) what are the differences of the loud calls sequences emitted during
duets and predator encounters (iv) how titi monkeys understand alarm calls
of a sympatric species, the Black-tufted-ear Marmoset Callithrix penicillata.
 

 

Titi monkey

© Mélissa Berthet

Contact

Mélissa Berthet

Mélissa Berthet

 

 

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

room B027 (Bâtiment G)
+41 32 718 24 33 skype logo +41 32 718 24 33

study site

  Study site 2

Sanctuário do Caraça
Santa Barbára - State of Minas Gerais
Brasil