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Exploring greetings and leave-takings: communication during arrivals and departures by chimpanzees of the Bossou community, Guinea

Abstract

In human fission–fusion societies, ritualized non-linguistic signal exchanges that include gestures, vocalizations, and facial expressions are regularly observed at both arrivals (greetings) and departures (leave-takings). These communicative events play an important role in the formation and maintenance of social relationships. Wild chimpanzees also form large communities that split into smaller fluid parties during daily activities, with individuals moving freely between them. However, in chimpanzees only greetings have been reported. This study explores signal exchanges in the Bossou chimpanzee community during fissions (departures) and fusions (arrivals) given an individual’s social rank, kinship, position as traveller or party-member, the level of potential threat, and the party size and presence of mature males. We analysed three time periods (1993–1994; 2003–2004; 2013–2014) during which the composition and social hierarchy of the community varied. We show that the occurrence and form of communication during fission and fusion events are mediated by social factors, including rank, kinship, and party size and composition. Individuals were more likely to communicate during fusions than during fissions, communication was more likely to be produced towards a higher-ranking individual and to non-kin individuals, but the tendency to communicate in general increased with an increase in social rank. The presence of more individuals, and in particular mature males, decreased the likelihood of communication. Communication during fusions supported patterns reported in previous studies on greetings, and our results support the argument that, if present, leave-takings are not a common feature of chimpanzee social interactions. Current methodological difficulties regarding the function of declarative signals hinder our ability to discriminate potential parting rituals within communication before departures. Given similar methodological difficulties, we also provide a note of caution in the interpretation of all signals produced during fusions as ‘greetings’.

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Data availability

Data, scripts, and online resources available in https://github.com/Wild-Minds/Bossou_HelloGoodbye.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript and to the Wild Minds Lab for the many insightful discussions on great ape gestures. We also thank Dr. Alexander Mielke for making his R code of Bayesian models available. Data from 1993–1994 were collected by Tetsuro Matsuzawa; data from 2003–2004 were collected by Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Dora Biro, Cláudia Sousa, Misato Hayashi, Tatyana Humle and Kathelijne Koops; and data from 2013–2014 were collected by Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Catherine Hobaiter and Leigh-Anna Young. We thank the local staff and collaborators who helped us collect the data at Bossou, in particular Gouano Goumy, Tino Zogbila, Paquilé Chérif, Pascal Goumy, Jules Doré, Boniface Zogbila, Henry Zogbila, Guanou Zogbila, Vincent Traoré, Nyonko Traoré, and Dogouka Samy. Long-term fieldwork in Bossou was initiated by Prof. Yukimaru Sugiyama in 1976. The Bossou project has run continuously through collaboration with Guinean scholars including: Jeremie Koman, Soh Pletah Bonimy, Bakary Coulibary, Tamba Tagbino, Makan Kourouma, Mamadou Diakite, Cécé Kolié, Iba Conde, and Aly Gaspard Soumah. We also thank the Guinean authorities who provided permission for the long-term researcher including: Ministre de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique, the Direction Générale de la Recherche Scientifique et de l'Innovation Technologique, and the Institut de Recherche Environnementale de Bossou (IREB).

Funding

The research was supported by a grant from the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology (SFRH/BD/138406/2018) and by the Claudia Sousa Memorial Fund to the first author. M.H. is funded by MEXT/JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas #4903 (Evolinguistics) JP17H06381. T.M. is funded by MEXT-JSPS #24000001 and #16H06283) as well as the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Core-to-Core Program CCSN and the Leading Graduate Program U04-PWS. C.H. is funded by the European Union’s 8th Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, under grant agreement no 802719.

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Correspondence to Evelina D. Rodrigues.

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Rodrigues, E.D., Santos, A.J., Hayashi, M. et al. Exploring greetings and leave-takings: communication during arrivals and departures by chimpanzees of the Bossou community, Guinea. Primates (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-021-00957-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-021-00957-z

Keywords

  • Pan troglodytes
  • Communication
  • Greetings
  • Leave-takings
  • Fission–fusion