Population-specific call order in chimpanzee greeting vocal sequences

Cédric Girard-Buttoz*, Tatiana Bortolato, Marion Laporte, Mathilde Grampp, Klaus Zuberbühler, Roman M. Wittig, Catherine Crockford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Primates rarely learn new vocalisations, but they can learn to use their vocalizations in different contexts. Such ‘vocal usage learning’, particularly in vocal sequences, is a hallmark of human language, but remains understudied in non-human primates. We assess usage learning in four wild chimpanzee communities of Taï and Budongo Forests by investigating population differences in call ordering of a greeting vocal sequence. Whilst in all groups, these sequences consisted of pant-hoots (long-distance contact call) and pant-grunts (short-distance submissive call), the order of the two calls differed across populations. Taï chimpanzees consistently commenced greetings with pant-hoots whereas Budongo chimpanzees started with pant-grunts. We discuss different hypotheses to explain this pattern and conclude that higher intra-group aggression in Budongo may have led to a local pattern of individuals signalling submission first. This highlights how within-species variation in social dynamics may lead to flexibility in call order production, possibly acquired via usage learning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104851
Issue number9
Early online date11 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2022


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