Vocal communication and group movement dynamics

Navn på bevillingshaver

Elodie Mandel-Briefer


University of Copenhagen


DKK 4,946,947




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


This project will investigate the role of vocalisations in facilitating animal group movement 1) directly through collective choices: 2) indirectly through emotional contagion between neighbouring individuals: 3) indirectly by shaping the quality of within-group relationships. By focussing on these three layers of social interactions, my project will provide a complete picture of the impact of sounds on group movement dynamics, from the signal-receiver dyad to the entire network. This will be done using a comparative approach that combines work on highly-vocal and social model species, zebras (Equus quagga), sheep (Ovis aries) and parakeets (Eupsittula sp.).


The acoustic channel is a powerful means of communication: it allows a rapid and efficient transmission of many pieces of information simultaneously (e.g. identity, quality, emotions), even across obstacles, long distances and low visibility. However, the field of animal behaviour currently lacks a fundamental understanding of how this means of communication shapes group movement dynamics. This work will move well-beyond traditional approaches in bioacoustics that have mainly focused on the information contained in animal sounds ('encoding'), to document how vocal information affects the behaviour not only of one individual but of entire groups. This will provide a full understanding of group movement dynamics based on all levels of interactions.


The first part of my project will test the effect of vocalisations on collective choices, using wild plains zebras as a model. To do so, we will use behavioural observations and acoustic recordings, combined with multi-layer network analyses, acoustic analyses, and playback experiments. The second part will test the effect of emotional contagion on sheep collective group movement, using techniques such as infrared thermography and automated tracking systems. Finally, the third part will investigate the impact of vocalisations on parakeet pairwise relationships, and how this affects group movement dynamics as a result. We will use interactive playbacks followed by cognitive bias tests to assess emotions, and social network analyses to test the impact of the playbacks on group dynamics.

Tilbage til oversigtssiden