Dorothy Cheney, professor of biology, and other researchers follow baboons during a water crossing. Photo courtesy of Penn Arts & Sciences magazine, OMNIA. 

LDC’s Catalog contains resources based on field collections from humans and animals. Among the latter is Talkbank Ethology Data: Field Recordings of Vervet Monkey Calls, LDC2004S12, developed by University of Pennsylvania professors Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth.

In a recent article in OMNIA, the Penn Arts and Sciences magazine, Cheney, professor of biology, and Seyfarth, a psychology professor, discuss their extensive fieldwork documenting the behavior, communication and social cognition of primates, particularly baboons and Vervet monkeys.

Of particular interest to the pair is primate vocal communication. There is some evidence that monkey calls function like words. For instance, monkeys appear to produce different calls depending on the type of predator approaching, and listening monkeys nearby react differently depending on the call. The Vervet monkey data collection in LDC’s Catalog contains 30 hours of digitized recordings with metadata about the situation surrounding a particular recording.

Making fieldwork studies like the Cheney-Seyfarth collection broadly available advances science by allowing for replication and benchmarking and for comparison of results across studies, and by supporting and informing the next generation of research.    

For more information, including a short audio interview with Cheney and Seyfarth about their life in the field, visit the full article in OMNIA magazine.