The relationship between food calling and agonistic behaviour in wild chimpanzees

Géraldine Ischer, Klaus Zuberbühler, Pawel Fedurek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


A number of social animals produce food-associated calls, which have been interpreted as informative and referential about the quality or quantity of food accessed by the caller. In chimpanzees, however, some behavioural patterns have remained unexplained by this model, suggesting that food-associated calls have a more generalized social function beyond attracting others to food, such as promoting tolerance between co-feeding individuals. In this study, we investigated how wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) of Budongo Forest, Uganda, use food associated-calls in situations when social tolerance is low, i.e., during agonistic interactions. We found a positive relationship between food calling and agonistic behaviours during a feeding event, independent of the number of males on the feeding patch. Moreover, food calling followed rather than preceded aggression, suggesting that aggression can trigger food call production. These results support the view that chimpanzee food-associated calls can act as social tools mediating competitive or aggressive interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104182
JournalBehavioural Processes
Early online date16 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Aggression
  • Chimpanzee
  • Conflict
  • Food-associated calls


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