Primate Communication – Learning Pack

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This pack explains how to go about recording primate calls as part of a research project. It then explains how to produce graphs from the recordings, supplying sample files of primate calls. Students can then match calls to their behavioural context and start to work out what these calls might mean. This pack covers topics in many physics syllabuses as well as those of biology!

The following materials are supplied as beta versions for you to try them out. Please do send us feedback!

Primate communication expert Dr. Katie Slocombe explains how to do a study on primate communication

The files below are for use in the practical activity. Students are given a video clip showing a chimpanzee behaviour and a matching call given during that behaviour – these relate to the video interview with Katie Slocombe. Students should use PRAAT software to measure the pitch and duration of each call in the sound clips and produce a mean for each type of call. Using the knowledge of food preferences from the video, and their measurements of calls 1 and 2, students should be able to work out how chimpanzees value two new food items shown in the video clips. Students should use their measurements of the calls taken in PRAAT rather than their own assessments of the audio files.

Primate Communication teachers’ guide doc

Primate call recordings (right-click to save to disk)

Primate behaviour videos (right-click to save to disk)

Download the free PRAAT software and tutorials here:

Brief instruction guide to sound recording and PRAAT pdf

Video example of an experimental study on capuchin monkey calls:
The practical activity above is a simple example of how to conduct an observational study on primate vocal communication. This video gives an example of an experimental study.

If you use any of our materials, please leave us feedback in the comments section below on how they were used, and how they can be improved. Academic levels and student numbers are particularly useful!

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