Katie Slocombe
Senior Lecturer

Profile

Biography

  • University of Nottingham
    BSc (1st class honours)
  • University of St Andrews
    PhD

Graduated from University of Nottingham before completing a PhD at the University of St Andrews. Stayed to do two years post-doctoral work with the Evolutionary Psychology group in St Andrews before joining York. Research interests centre around using the comparative approach to understand how key aspects of human cognition evolved, including human language. Her previous work focusses on chimpanzee vocal communication and in particular, the extent to which our closest living relatives can use calls to refer to objects and events in the external environment and the psychological mechanisms underlying call production. This behavioural work has been conducted with both wild and captive populations of chimpanzees. Current core research topics include multimodal communication and joint attention in chimpanzees and human infants, cognition in parrots and corvids and chimpanzee welfare. 

Departmental roles

Employability coordinator

Deputy Chair of Graduate Studies

University roles

Member of University Academic Promotions Committee

Research

Overview

Evolutionary and comparative psychology: evolution of language, chimpanzee communication, human infant communication, behaviour and cognition in primates, parrots and corvids.

Current projects

Multimodal communication and cooperation in chimpanzees: My PhD student Claudia Wilke is collecting observational data from the Kanyawara community of wild chimpanzees, in collaboration with Kibale Chimpanzee Project. Claudia is examining vocalisations, gestures and facial expressions in addition to flexible multimodal combinations of these signals. We are also assessing if individual variation in communicative behaviour is related to individual variation in cooperative behaviour. Dr Bridget Waller is a collaborator on this project.

Joint attention in chimpanzees and human infants: My MSc student Tom Pinfield is examining social referencing behaviour of captive chimpanzees at Edinburgh Zoo, using a variety of experimental approaches. Comparative data from capuchins monkeys is being collected by collaborators Puja Singh and Dr Amanda Seed to enable us to make direct cross species comparisons. Tanja Kaller and I are in the process of writing up her PhD work examining joint attention events in wild chimpanzee, British and Ugandan human mother-infant dyads.

Communication in chimpanzees and human infants: My PhD student Ed Donnellan, who is co-supervised by Dr Danielle Matthews and registered at the University of Sheffield, is examining communcative intentions, ostensive cues and markers of intentional signal production in human infants and captive chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee welfare: My Phd student Emma Wallace is collecting observational and experimental data examining the efficacy of music as enrichment for zoo-housed chimpanzees in addition to assessing potential triggers for abnormal and stress-related behaviours in captive chimpanzees. Dr Bridget Waller is a collaborator on this project.

Chimpanzee behaviour: As Scientific director of the Budongo Trail chimpanzee facility at Edinburgh Zoo, I organise the collection of long term behavioural data on these captive chimpanzees and maintain a long term database that was established in collaboration with Zarin Machanda and Emma Wallace. These data are currently being used in a range of welfare-focussed projects and for social network analyses.

Orangutan communication and social cognition: I am collaborating with Dr Katja Liebal and her PhD student Carla Pritsch to investigate the flexibility of signal production in captive orangutans and the perception of emotional information from visual and auditory stimuli.

Prosocial behaviour in corvids and physical cognition in parrots and corvids: My PhD student Megan Lambert is using experimental paradigms to investigate prosocial behaviour in Ravens, in collaboration with Prof. Thomas Bugnyar and Dr Jorg Massen and physical cognition in Greater Vasa parrots, Kea parrots (in collaboration with Dr Gyula Gajdon) and New Caledonian Crows (in collaboration with Dr Alex Taylor). Dr Amanda Seed is a collaborator on this project

Parrot cognition and social relationships: My Phd student Alejandra Picard is conducting observational and experimental behavioural research examining how social relationships are maintained in two species of parrots and whether individual variation in relationship investment is related to performance on physical and social cognition tasks. Dr Amanda Seed is a collaborator on this project

Emotion perception, joint attention and material culture in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): An additional strand of research I am currently pursuing focuses on understanding a number of different issues in individuals with ASD. I have collected behavioural and physiological data on adults with and without Asperger's Syndrome responding to emotional sounds from humans, chimpanzees and monkeys, to understand how auditory emotion processing may be different in individuals with ASD (in collaboration with Dr Liat Levita). I have collected data on young children with and without ASD engaging in a variety of joint attention tasks, to understand how and when deficits in joint attention can be effectively measured. I have examined relationships with and attitudes towards personal possessions in individuals with and without ASD as part of a interdisciplinary C2D2 funded project conducted in collaboration with Dr Penny Spikins.

 

Research group(s)

Megan Lambert (PhD Student)

Claudia Wilke (PhD Student)

Emma Wallace (Phd Student)

Alejandra Picard (PhD Student)

Ed Donnellan (co-supervised PhD student)

Thomas Pinfield (MSc student)

Nicole Lahiff (Research assistant)

Grants

£293,943 BBSRC New Investigator Project Grant (2009-2012) entitled ‘To call or not to call: mechanisms underlying call production in chimpanzees’. 

£6375 Leakey Foundation project grant (2014) with PhD student Claudia Wilke

£1600 British Psychological Society Summer Research Bursary (2013) entitled ‘Do only apes ape? Social learning in parrots’.

£19,340 British Psychological Society Public Engagement Grant (2012) entitled ‘Development and evaluation of interactive exhibits promoting comparative psychology in a zoo environment’ (joint PI with Dr Bridget Waller)

£15,583 Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) grant (2012) entitled ‘Lost in Translation?: Personal material culture and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)’ (Co-I, with PI Dr Penny Spikins)

 $10766 Leakey Foundation project grant (2011) with PhD student Pawel Fedurek 

Collaborators

  • Dr K. Liebal (Freie Universität Berlin) and Dr B. Waller (University of Portsmouth, UK); Multi-modal communication in primates
  • Prof R. Wrangham (Harvard University, USA) and Dr M. Muller (University of New Mexico, USA); Chimpanzee vocal communication, Kibale Chimpanzee Project, Uganda.
  • Dr A. Seed (University of St Andrews); Corvid and parrot cognition and communication
  • Dr Z. Machanda (Harvaard University, USA); Chimpanzee behavior
  • Dr S. Townsend (University of Warwick, UK); Chimpanzee communication
  • Prof. T. Bugnyar & Dr J. Massen (University of Vienna, Austria); Raven cognition
  • Dr A. Taylor (University of Auckland, New Zealand); Corvid cognition
  • Prof. K. Zuberbühler (University of Neuchatel, Switzerland) Chimpanzee vocal communication
  • Dr Penny Spikins (Archaeology, University of York): Material culture and Autism spectrum Disorder
  • Prof  E.J. Milner-Gulland (Imperial College, UK) Human-primate interactions

Available PhD research projects

I would welcome applications from people interested in Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology, more specifically communication and social cognition in primates or birds. I have a good network of contacts to arrange access to a variety of primate and bird species for studying, including wild and captive chimpanzees. For those wishing to embark on a fieldwork PhD study, experience of travel and work in third world countries is a real advantage.

Publications

Selected publications

Liebal. K., Waller, B., Burrows, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) Primate Communication: a multimodal approach. Cambridge University Press

Primate Communication book cover

Lambert, M. L., Seed, A. M., & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). A novel form of spontaneous tool use displayed by several captive greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa). Biology letters11(12), 20150861.

 Watson, S. K., Townsend, S. W., Schel, A. M., Wilke, C., Wallace, E. K., Cheng, L. West, V. & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Reply to Fischer et al. Current Biology25(21), R1030-R1031.

Watson, S. K., Townsend, S. W., Schel, A. M., Wilke, C., Wallace, E. K., Cheng, L., West, V. & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Vocal learning in the functionally referential food grunts of chimpanzees. Current Biology25(4), 495-499.

 Fedurek, P., Slocombe, K. E., & Zuberbühler, K. (2015). Chimpanzees communicate to two different audiences during aggressive interactions. Animal Behaviour110, 21-28.

 Fedurek, P., Slocombe, K. E., Hartel, J. A., & Zuberbühler, K. (2015). Chimpanzee lip-smacking facilitates cooperative behaviour. Scientific reports5.

 Babiszewska, M., Schel, A. M., Wilke, C., & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Social, contextual, and individual factors affecting the occurrence and acoustic structure of drumming bouts in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). American Journal of Physical Anthropology156(1), 125-134.

Schel, A., M., Townsend, S. W., Machanda, Z., Zuberbuhler, K., Slocombe K. E. (2013) Chimpanzee alarm call production meets key criteria for intentionality, PLoS One8(10), e76674

 Schel, A., M., Machanda, Z., Townsend, S. W., Zuberbuhler, K., Slocombe K. E (2013) Chimpanzee food calls are directed at specific individuals, Animal Behaviour, 86(5), 955-965

 Papworth, S.,  Milner-Gulland, E.J. & Slocombe, K. E., (2013) Hunted Woolly monkeys (lagothrix poeppigii) show threat sensitive responses to human presence, PLoS One, 8 (4), e62000

 Fedurek, P., Schel, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) The acoustic structure of chimpanzee pant-hooting facilitates chorusing, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 67(11), 1781-89

 Fedurek, P., Machanda, Z., Schel, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) Pant hoot chorusing and social bonds in male chimpanzees, Animal Behaviour, 86, 189-196

 Slocombe, K. E.,  Alvarez, I., Branigan, H.P.,  Jellema, T., Burnett, H.G., Fischer, A., Li, Y.H., Garrod, S. & Levita, L. (2012) Linguistic Alignment in Adults with and Without Asperger’s Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: 1-14. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1698-2

 Fedurek, P. & Slocombe, K. E. (2011) Primate vocal communication: a useful tool for understanding human speech and language evolution? Human Biology, 83 (2), 153-174

 Slocombe, K. E., Waller, B. & Liebel, K. (2011). The language void: the need for multimodality in primate communication research, Animal Behaviour, 81 (5), 919-924

Slocombe, K. E., Kaller, T., Turman, L., Townsend, S.W., Papworth, S. & Zuberbühler, K. (2010) Production of food-associated calls in wild male chimpanzees is dependent on the composition of the audience, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, DOI: 10.1007/s00265-010-1006-0

Slocombe. K. E ., Kaller, T., Call, J. & Zuberbühler, K. (2010) Chimpanzees extract social information from agonistic screams, PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011473

Slocombe, K. E ., Townsend, S.W. & Zuberbühler, K. (2009). Wild chimpanzees distinguish between different scream types: evidence from a playback study, Animal Cognition, 12 (3), 441-449

Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2007). Chimpanzees modify recruitment screams as a function of audience composition. PNAS.104 (43), 17228-17233

Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2005) Functionally referential communication in a chimpanzee. Current Biology, 15 (19), 1779-1784.

Full publications list

PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS

 Lambert, M. L., Seed, A. M., & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). A novel form of spontaneous tool use displayed by several captive greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa). Biology letters11(12), 20150861.

 Watson, S. K., Townsend, S. W., Schel, A. M., Wilke, C., Wallace, E. K., Cheng, L. West, V. & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Reply to Fischer et al. Current Biology25(21), R1030-R1031.

 Watson, S. K., Townsend, S. W., Schel, A. M., Wilke, C., Wallace, E. K., Cheng, L., West, V. & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Vocal learning in the functionally referential food grunts of chimpanzees. Current Biology25(4), 495-499.

 Fedurek, P., Slocombe, K. E., & Zuberbühler, K. (2015). Chimpanzees communicate to two different audiences during aggressive interactions. Animal Behaviour110, 21-28.

 Fedurek, P., Slocombe, K. E., Hartel, J. A., & Zuberbühler, K. (2015). Chimpanzee lip-smacking facilitates cooperative behaviour. Scientific reports5.

 Babiszewska, M., Schel, A. M., Wilke, C., & Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Social, contextual, and individual factors affecting the occurrence and acoustic structure of drumming bouts in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 156(1), 125-134.

 Salcedo, A., Mejia, M., Slocombe, K. E. & Papworth, S. (2014) Two case studies using playbacks toCensus neotropical primates: callicebus Discolor and alouatta palliate Aequatorialis, .Neotropical primates, 21 (2), 201-205

 Whitehouse, J., Waller, B. M., Chanvin, M., Wallace, E. K., Schel, A. M., Peirce, K., Mitchell, H., Macri, A. & Slocombe, K. (2014). Evaluation of public engagement activities to promote science in a zoo environment. PLoS One, 9 (11), e113395.

 Fedurek, P., Donnelan, E., Slocombe K. E. (2014) Social and ecological correlates of long-distance pant hoot calls in male chimpanzees, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology , 68(8), 1345-1355

 MacLean, E. L., Hare, B., Nunn, C. L., Addessi, E., Amici, F., Anderson, R. C…. Slocombe K. E., et al. (2014). The evolution of self-control. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1323533111

 Schel, A., M., Townsend, S. W., Machanda, Z., Zuberbuhler, K., Slocombe K. E. (2013) Chimpanzee alarm call production meets key criteria for intentionality, PLoS One, 8(10), e76674

 Schel, A., M., Machanda, Z., Townsend, S. W., Zuberbuhler, K., Slocombe K. E (2013) Chimpanzee food calls are directed at specific individuals, Animal Behaviour, 86(5), 955-965

 Fedurek, P., Schel, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) The acoustic structure of chimpanzee pant-hooting facilitates chorusing, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 67(11), 1781-89

 Fedurek, P., Machanda, Z., Schel, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) Pant hoot chorusing and social bonds in male chimpanzees, Animal Behaviour, 86, 189-196

Waller, B., Warmelink, L., Liebal. K., Micheletta, J. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) Pseudoreplication: a widespread problem in primate communication research, Animal Behaviour, 86(2), 483-488

 Waller, B., Liebal. K., Burrows, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) How can studying non-human animals help us understand the evolution of human communication? Evolutionary Psychology, 11(3), 538-549

Papworth, S., Milner-Gulland, E.J. and Slocombe, K. (2013), The natural place to begin: The ethnoprimatology of the Waorani. American Journal of Primatology. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22173

 Papworth, S.,  Milner-Gulland, E.J. & Slocombe, K. E., (2013) Hunted Woolly monkeys (lagothrix poeppigii) show threat sensitive responses to human presence, PLoS One, 8 (4), e62000

 Fedurek, P. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) The social function of food-associated calls in male chimpanzees, American Journal of Primatology, 75 (7), 726-739: DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22122

 Schel, A. M., Rawlings, B., Claidière, N., Wilke, C., Wathan, J., Richardson, J., Pearson, S., S. Herrelko, E., Whiten, A. and Slocombe, K. (2013), Network Analysis of Social Changes in a Captive Chimpanzee Community Following the Successful Integration of Two Adult Groups. American Journal of Primatology, 75: 254–266. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22101

 Slocombe, K. E.,  Alvarez, I., Branigan, H.P.,  Jellema, T., Burnett, H.G., Fischer, A., Li, Y.H., Garrod, S. & Levita, L. (2012) Linguistic Alignment in Adults with and Without Asperger’s Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: 1-14. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1698-2

 Papworth, S., Bunnefeld, N., Slocombe, K. E.., Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2012) Movement ecology of human resource users: Using net squared displacement, biased random bridges and resource utilisation functions to quantify hunter and gatherer behaviour. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.3(3), 584-594

 Fedurek, P. & Slocombe, K. E. (2011)Primate vocal communication: a useful tool for understanding human speech and language evolution? Human Biology, 83 (2), 153-174

 Slocombe, K. E., Waller, B. & Liebel, K. (2011). The language void: the need for multimodality in primate communication research, Animal Behaviour, 81 (5), 919-924

 Slocombe, K. E., Kaller, T., Turman, L., Townsend, S.W., Papworth, S. & Zuberbühler, K. (2010) Production of food-associated calls in wild male chimpanzees is dependent on the composition of the audience, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64 (12), 1959-1966

 Slocombe. K. E., Kaller, T., Call, J. & Zuberbühler, K. (2010) Chimpanzees extract social information from agonistic screams, PLoS One, 5 (7), e11473

Slocombe, K. E., Townsend, S.W. & Zuberbühler, K. (2009). Wild chimpanzees distinguish between different scream types: evidence from a playback study, Animal Cognition, 12 (3), 441-449

 Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2007). Chimpanzees modify recruitment screams as a function of audience composition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 104 (43), 17228-17233

 Townsend, S. W., Slocombe, K. E., Emery-Thompson, M. & Zuberbühler, K. (2007) Female-led infanticide in wild chimpanzees. Current Biology, 17 (10), R355-R356

Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2006) Food-associated calls in chimpanzees: Responses to food types or food preferences? Animal Behaviour, 72, 989-999

 Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2005) Functionally referential communication in a chimpanzee. Current Biology, 15 (19), 1779-1784.

 Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2005) Agonistic screams in wild chimpanzees vary as a function of social role, Journal of Comparative Psychology, 119(1), 67-77

Slocombe, K. E. and Newton-Fisher, N. E. (2005) Fruit sharing in wild chimpanzees; a socially significant event? American Journal of Primatology, 65(4),385-391

 

BOOKS

Liebal. K., Waller, B., Burrows, A. & Slocombe, K. E. (2013) Primate Communication: a multimodal approach. Cambridge University Press

 

BOOK CHAPTERS

 Slocombe, K. E. & Scott Philips, T. (expected 2016). Language and Communication. In Pancestor (Eds Muller, M. & Wrangham, R. W.). Harvard University Press

 Slocombe, K. E. (2015). Vocal Communication in Primates. Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource. 1–12. DOI: 10.1002/9781118900772.etrds0380

 Slocombe, K. E. (2012) Have we underestimated great ape vocal capacities? In Handbook of Language Evolution (Eds Tallerman, M. & Gibson, K.). Oxford University Press, pp 90-95.

 Zuberbühler, K., Arnold, K. & Slocombe, K. (2011) Living links to Human Language. In Primate communication and human language (Eds Vilain, A., Schwartz, J., Abry, C. & Vauclair, J.) John Benjamin Publishing company: Amsterdam, Netherlands

 Slocombe, K. E. and Zuberbühler, K. (2010) Chimpanzee vocal communication. In The Mind of the Chimpanzee (Eds Lonsdorf, E., Ross, S. & Matsuzawa, T.), University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

 

Teaching

Undergraduate

Current positions in Department of Psychology, University of York

2013 – pres      Module organiser and sole lecturer for ‘Animal Communication and Cognition’ (final year BSc: 40 students)

Previous positions, Dept of Psychology, University of York

2011 – 2014    Module organiser and sole lecturer for ‘Research Methods’ (BSc Year 1: 200 students)

2010 – 2012    Coordinator for ‘Mini-Projects’ (BSc Year 1 and 2: 400 students)

2009 – 2010    Module organiser and lecturer for ‘Data Analysis 1’ (BSc Year 1: 200 students)

2009 – 2011    Module organiser and lecturer for ‘Comparative cognition’ (BSc Year 2: 150 students)

2007 – 2009    Module organiser and sole lecturer for ‘Scientific Skills for Psychologists’ (BSc Year 1: 200 students)

2007 – 2009    Module organiser and lecturer for ‘Introduction to Psychology as a Biological Science’ (BSc Year 1: 200 students)

Postgraduate

Current positions in Department of Psychology, University of York

2015 – pres      Module organiser and lecturer for ‘Issues and Methods in Applied Research’ (MSc module: 80 students)

Other teaching

Invited teaching positions

July 2016                  Evolution of language and animal communication lectures, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Genetics & Neurobiology of Language                                      Course, New York, USA 

2012, 2013, 2014    ‘Animal communication masterclass’ for Evolution of Language and Cognition MSc students, University of Edinburgh, UK

2011                        Guest Lecturer on ‘Primate behaviour and conservation field course’, Costa Rica

K.Slocombe(ks553)-200w

Contact details

Katie Slocombe
Lecturer
Department of Psychology
Room PS/B201

Tel: 01904 322905