Sibling competition; Vocal signalling; Sibling negotiation; Sib-sib communication; Parent-offspring conflict
(2016), Prosody predicts contest outcome in non-verbal dialogs, in Plos One
, 11, e0166953.
(2016), Vocal communication regulates sibling competition over food stock, in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
, 70(6), 927-937.
(2015), Information retention during competitive interactions: siblings need to constantly repeat vocal displays, in Evolutionary Biology
, 42(1), 63-74.
(2015), Social rules govern vocal competition in the barn owl, in Animal Behaviour
, 102, 95-107.
(2014), Individual vocal signatures in barn owl nestlings: does individual recognition have an adaptive role in sibling vocal competition?, in Journal of Evolutionary Biology
, 27(1), 63-75.
(2013), Barn owls do not interrupt their siblings, in Animal Behaviour
, 86(1), 119-126.
(2013), Big brother is watching you: eavesdropping to resolve family conflicts, in Behavioral Ecology
, 24(3), 717-722.
(2013), Efficiency and significance of multiple vocal signals in sibling competition, in Evolutionary Biology
, 40, 579-588.
(2013), Nestling barn owls assess short-term variation in the amount of vocally competing siblings, in Animal Cognition
, 16(6), 993-1000.
In human conversations, the smooth course of vocal exchanges is set by turn-taking rules. Already prevailing in babies, these rules may be universally shared among other animals. Our aim in this project is to investigate how animals organize their vocal interactions to communicate messages efficiently to each other. Given the difficulty of recording and analyzing several acoustic features over long periods of time, the temporal dynamics of dyadic vocal interactions have rarely been studied in details. This is however important because signaling level of an individual often fluctuates over short-time periods independently of need (such as hunger) due to social interactions. In this project, my aim is to study the temporal dynamics of vocal interactions taking place between barn owl siblings. This system is particularly interesting because young siblings not only beg for food towards parents but also communicate vocally among each other throughout the night while parents are foraging. This sib-sib communication system enables siblings to resolve conflicts of interest over which individual will have priority of access to the next indivisible prey item delivered by a parent. Because only one chick is fed per parental feeding visit, siblings are selected to negotiate vocally how food will be shared. In contrast to our previous correlative studies, we will study vocal negotiation using playback experiments and automatized computing tools to record and measure the thousands of calls individual owlets produce at night. This will allow us to study the temporal dynamics of vocal dialogs and turn-taking rule, i.e. understand how each individual organizes its vocal output when competing with siblings over long periods of time. Preliminary playback experiments revealed that nestlings respond very well in these laboratory conditions, which opens a large window of new possibilities for experimentally proving and investigating the behavioral mechanisms underlying sibling negotiation processes. The development of such new tools will allow us to answer challenging question on behavior and cognition on a very large sample size in controlled laboratory conditions. This will shed light on a vast sets of evolutionary questions that have not yet been unraveled, such as how young animals resolve conflicts of interest over the share of parental resource through vocal signaling, the ontogeny of animal cognitive abilities (memory, numerical competencies) and the nature and emergence of the basic rules underlying vocal exchanges beyond the human language in non primate animals.