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Journal Articles Royal Society Open Science Year : 2021

Dominance style is a key predictor of vocal use and evolution across nonhuman primates

1 University of York [York, UK]
2 Nottingham Trent University
3 Durham University
4 Mountains of the Moon University
5 University of Michigan [Ann Arbor]
6 University of Texas at Austin [Austin]
7 University of Waterloo [Waterloo]
8 UNAM - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México = National Autonomous University of Mexico
9 UC Santa Barbara - University of California [Santa Barbara]
10 Yale University [New Haven]
11 University of Exeter
12 EthoS - Ethologie animale et humaine
13 The University of New Mexico [Albuquerque]
14 GPC - DPZ - German Primate Center - Deutsches Primatenzentrum -- Leibniz Insitute for Primate Research -- [Göttingen, Allemagne]
15 LJMU - Liverpool John Moores University
16 Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
17 UNITO - Università degli studi di Torino = University of Turin
18 School of Psychology and Neuroscience [University of St. Andrews]
19 UWA - The University of Western Australia
20 Harvard University
21 Cornell University [New York]
22 Tulane University
23 Kyoto University
24 University of Roehampton, United Kingdom
25 Tufts University [Medford]
26 University of Lincoln
27 UNIME - Université de Neufchätel
28 University of Portsmouth
29 AU - Athabasca University
30 CSRS-CI - Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Cote d'Ivoire [Abidjan]
31 University of Calgary
32 NYU - New York University [New York]
33 Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology [Leipzig]
34 University of Georgia [USA]
35 ASU - Arizona State University [Tempe]
36 IPN - Instituto Politecnico Nacional [Mexico]
37 Abertay University - Abertay University
38 UNIL - Université de Lausanne = University of Lausanne
39 UMass Amherst - University of Massachusetts [Amherst]
40 University of Pretoria [South Africa]
41 University of Lethbridge
42 University of St Andrews [Scotland]
Sally Street
  • Function : Author
Zanna Clay
  • Function : Author
Camille Coye
Alban Lemasson
Jérôme Micheletta
Hugh Notman
  • Function : Author
Richard Wrangham


Animal communication has long been thought to be subject to pressures and constraints associated with social relationships. However, our understanding of how the nature and quality of social relationships relates to the use and evolution of communication is limited by a lack of directly comparable methods across multiple levels of analysis. Here, we analysed observational data from 111 wild groups belonging to 26 non-human primate species, to test how vocal communication relates to dominance style (the strictness with which a dominance hierarchy is enforced, ranging from ‘despotic’ to ‘tolerant’). At the individual-level, we found that dominant individuals who were more tolerant vocalized at a higher rate than their despotic counterparts. This indicates that tolerance within a relationship may place pressure on the dominant partner to communicate more during social interactions. At the species-level, however, despotic species exhibited a larger repertoire of hierarchy-related vocalizations than their tolerant counterparts. Findings suggest primate signals are used and evolve in tandem with the nature of interactions that characterize individuals' social relationships.

Dates and versions

hal-03331888 , version 1 (02-09-2021)



Eithne Kavanagh, Sally Street, Felix Angwela, Thore Bergman, Maryjka Blaszczyk, et al.. Dominance style is a key predictor of vocal use and evolution across nonhuman primates. Royal Society Open Science, 2021, 8 (7), pp.210873. ⟨10.1098/rsos.210873⟩. ⟨hal-03331888⟩
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