Wild chimpanzees modify modality of gestures according to the strength of social bonds and personal network size
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractPrimates form strong and enduring social bonds with others and these bonds have important fitness consequences. However, how different types of communication are associated with different types of social bonds is poorly understood. Wild chimpanzees have a large repertoire of gestures, from visual gestures to tactile and auditory gestures. We used social network analysis to examine the association between proximity bonds (time spent in close proximity) and rates of gestural communication in pairs of chimpanzees when the intended recipient was within 10 m of the signaller. Pairs of chimpanzees with strong proximity bonds had higher rates of visual gestures, but lower rates of auditory long-range and tactile gestures. However, individual chimpanzees that had a larger number of proximity bonds had higher rates of auditory and tactile gestures and lower rates of visual gestures. These results suggest that visual gestures may be an efficient way to communicate with a small number of regular interaction partners, but that tactile and auditory gestures may be more effective at communicating with larger numbers of weaker bonds. Increasing flexibility of communication may have played an important role in managing differentiated social relationships in groups of increasing size and complexity in both primate and human evolution.
CitationRoberts, A. I., & Roberts, S. G. B. (2016). Wild chimpanzees modify modality of gestures according to the strength of social bonds and personal network size. Scientific Reports, 6, 33864. doi:10.1038/srep33864
PublisherNature Publishing Group
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