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From an evolutionary perspective, we analyze how social complexity affects the complexity of signals. Lemurs offer an excellent example for this research endeavor through their organization into different social systems, ranging from solitary to pair- as well as group-living species. To describe the complexity of signaling systems, we characterize the repertoire of acoustic, visual and olfactory signals, and compare their structure and function, as well as the multimodal use of signals in species, whose social organization differs. In addition, we study how phylogenetic descent shapes the structure of signaling systems and which signals (acoustic, visual or olfactory) are used for species recognition.

Current Projects

Communicative complexity in primates: sociality and multimodal communication in two species of lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons, E. mongoz)
(Louise Peckre)

How leads? Personality and leadership in red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons)
(Anna Sperber)


Sperber AV, Werner L, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2017) Grunt to go – Vocal coordination of group movements in redfronted lemurs. Ethology 123: 894-905.


Finished Projects

The role of acoustic and visual signals in species recognition of red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons)


Rakotonirina H, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2018) The role of facial pattern variation for species recognition in red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons). BMC Evol Bio 18:19

Rakotonirina H, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2017) Evolution of facial color complexity in lemurs. Sci Rep 7: 15181

Rakotonirina H, Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2016) The role of acoustic signals for species recognition in redfronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons). BMC Evol Bio 16:1