, Volume 26, Issue 3–4, pp 161–165 | Cite as

Multimodal signalling of ovulation in human and non-human primates

  • L. RigaillEmail author
Note / Note


Communication in primates is based on multiple elements of signals, often expressed in different modalities. While some individual primate signals are relatively well described for a particular cue (e.g. copulation calls, sexual swellings) or for one specific dimension of a signal (e.g. the size of sexual swellings), few studies have simultaneously investigated the role of multiple signals and cues in the same communicative context. This paper reviews comparative evidence on primate sexual communication, specifically concerning multimodal sexual signalling of ovulation and mating strategies. A comparison is made across primate species, including humans, of the characteristics of different female sexual cues and signals (behavioural, visual, auditory and olfactory) and of their potential roles in the discrimination of the timing of ovulation. The possible selective reasons for such multimodal signalling are discussed.


Sexual signals Communication Ovulation Mating choices Reproductive strategies 

Signalisation multimodale de l’ovulation chez les primates humains et non-humains


La communication chez les primates est basée sur de multiples éléments de signaux, souvent exprimés via différentes modalités. Alors que certains signaux (e.g. cris de copulation, gonflement sexuel) ou certaines composantes particulières d’un signal (e.g. la taille du gonflement sexuel) ont été relativement bien décrits, peu d’études ont simultanément analysé le rôle de multiples signaux dans un même contexte de communication. Cette revue présente des données comparatives relatives à la communication sexuelle chez les primates et concernant la signalisation multimodale de l’ovulation et les stratégies reproductives. Je compare les caractéristiques des différents indices et signaux sexuels des femelles (comportementaux, visuels, auditifs et olfactifs) chez différentes espèces de primates dont l’Homme, et leurs rôles potentiels dans la détermination du moment de l’ovulation. Les possibles raisons sélectives expliquant une telle signalisation multimodale sont discutées.

Mots clés

Signaux sexuels Communication Ovulation Choix copulatoires Stratégies de reproduction 


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Copyright information

© Société d'anthropologie de Paris et Springer-Verlag France 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Systems Evolution Department, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan

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