Université de Neuchâtel
  • Neuchâtel, NE, Switzerland
Recent publications
Mass movements constitute major natural hazards in the Alpine realm. When triggered on slopes adjacent to lakes, these mass movements can generate tsunami-like waves that may cause additional damage along the shore. For hazard assessment, knowledge about the occurrence, the trigger and the geomechanical and hydrogeological mechanisms of these mass movements is necessary. For reconstructing mass movements that occurred in or adjacent to lakes, the lakes's sedimentary record can be used as an archive. Here, we present a prehistorical mass-movement event, of which the traces were found in an alpine lake, Lake Thun, in central Switzerland. The mass movement is identified by large blocks on the bathymetric map, a chaotic to transparent facies on the reflection seismic profiles, and by a mixture of deformed lake sediments and sandy organic-rich layers in the sediment-core record. The event is dated at 2642-2407 cal year BP. With an estimated volume of ~ 20 × 106 m3 it might have generated a wave with an initial amplitude of > 30 m. In addition to this prehistorical event, two younger deposits were identified in the sedimentary record. One could be dated at 1523-1361 cal year BP and thus can be potentially related to an event in 598/599 AD documented in historical reports. The youngest deposit is dated at 304-151 cal year BP (1646-1799 AD) and is interpreted to be related to the artificial Kander river deviation into Lake Thun (1714 AD). Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s00015-022-00405-0.
Understanding the affective lives of animals has been a long-standing challenge in science. Recent technological progress in infrared thermal imaging has enabled researchers to monitor animals' physiological states in real-time when exposed to ecologically relevant situations, such as feeding in the company of others. During social feeding, an individual's physiological states are likely to vary with the nature of the resource and perceptions of competition. Previous findings in chimpanzees have indicated that events perceived as competitive cause decreases in nasal temperatures, whereas the opposite was observed for cooperative interactions. Here, we tested how food resources and audience structure impacted on how social feeding events were perceived by wild chimpanzees. Overall, we found that nasal temperatures were lower when meat was consumed as compared to figs, consistent with the idea that social feeding on more contested resources is perceived as more dangerous and stressful. Nasal temperatures were significant affected by interactions between food type and audience composition, in particular the number of males, their dominance status, and their social bond status relative to the subject, while no effects for the presence of females were observed. Our findings suggest that male chimpanzees closely monitor and assess their social environment during competitive situations, and that infrared imaging provides an important complement to access psychological processes beyond observable social behaviours. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cognition, communication and social bonds in primates’.
The Interaction Engine Hypothesis postulates that humans have a unique ability and motivation for social interaction. A crucial juncture in the ontogeny of the interaction engine could be around 2–4 years of age, but observational studies of children in natural contexts are limited. These data appear critical also for comparison with non-human primates. Here, we report on focal observations on 31 children aged 2- and 4-years old in four preschools (10 h per child). Children interact with a wide range of partners, many infrequently, but with one or two close friends. Four-year olds engage in cooperative social interactions more often than 2-year olds and fight less than 2-year olds. Conversations and playing with objects are the most frequent social interaction types in both age groups. Children engage in social interactions with peers frequently (on average 13 distinct social interactions per hour) and briefly (28 s on average) and shorter than those of great apes in comparable studies. Their social interactions feature entry and exit phases about two-thirds of the time, less frequently than great apes. The results support the Interaction Engine Hypothesis, as young children manifest a remarkable motivation and ability for fast-paced interactions with multiple partners. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Revisiting the human ‘interaction engine’: comparative approaches to social action coordination’.
Joint commitment, the feeling of mutual obligation binding participants in a joint action, is typically conceptualized as arising by the expression and acceptance of a promise. This account limits the possibilities of investigating fledgling forms of joint commitment in actors linguistically less well-endowed than adult humans. The feeling of mutual obligation is one aspect of joint commitment (the product ), which emerges from a process of signal exchange. It is gradual rather than binary; feelings of mutual obligation can vary in strength according to how explicit commitments are perceived to be. Joint commitment processes are more complex than simple promising, in at least three ways. They are affected by prior joint actions, which create precedents and conventions that can be embodied in material arrangements of institutions. Joint commitment processes also arise as solutions to generic coordination problems related to opening up, maintaining and closing down joint actions. Finally, during joint actions, additional, specific commitments are made piecemeal. These stack up over time and persist, making it difficult for participants to disengage from joint actions. These complexifications open up new perspectives for assessing joint commitment across species. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Revisiting the human ‘interaction engine’: comparative approaches to social action coordination’.
In this paper, we attempt to show some consequences of bringing the body back into higher education, through the use of performing arts in the curricular context of scientific programs. We start by arguing that dominant traditions in higher education reproduced the mind-body dualism that shaped the social matrix of meanings on knowledge transmission. We highlight the limits of the modern disembodied and decontextualized reason and suggest that, considering the students’ and teachers’ bodies as non-relevant aspects, or even obstacles, leads to the invisibilization of fundamental aspects involved in teaching and learning processes. We thus conducted a study, from a socio-cultural perspective, in which we analyse the emerging matrix of meanings given to the body and bodily engagement by students, through a systematic qualitative analysis of 47 personal diaries. We structured the results and the discussion around five interpretative axes: (1) the production of diaries enables historicization, while the richness of bodily experience expands the boundaries of diaries into non-textual modalities; (2) curricular context modulates the emergent meanings of the body; (3) physical and symbolic spaces guide the matrix of bodily meanings; (4) the bodily dimension of the courses facilitates the emergence of an emotional dimension to get in touch with others and to register one's own emotional experiences; and (5) the body functions as a condition for biographical continuity. These axes are discussed under the light of the general process of consciousness-raising and resignification of the situated body in the educational practice.
This article explores the story of Einar, a Faroese man who always lived within a 500-meters radius on the island of Suðuroy, who never felt "stuck" or "immobile" in the literal sense of the word. Studies have shown that staying is a process, as much as mobility; yet while mobility studies mainly show that imagination is an incentive to move, we argue that imagination may also actively support staying. Combining sociocultural psychology with mobility studies, we propose to explore the entangle-ment of symbolic mobility (a form of imagination) and various forms of geographical (im)mobility. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and hours of conversation, we present the case study of Einar's life on his island. We follow the sociogenetic development of the island, and the expansion and contraction of the imaginative horizon over time. On this background, we then retrace the life of Einar and show how, within this transforming context, his imagination developed thanks to resources he could use from the mobility of technologies, ideas, and other people. Interestingly, at different bifurcation points, his symbolic mobility almost led him to move away but, at another point, helped him to refuse geographical mobility. Hence, he was always symbolically mobile while staying. We finally propose directions for general-ising from this case study, and implications for cultural psychology and for mobility and migration studies.
The conversion of tropical forests to croplands and grasslands is a major threat to global biodiversity, climate and local livelihoods and ecosystems. The enforcement of protected areas as well as the clarification and strengthening of collective and individual land property rights are key instruments to curb deforestation in the tropics. However, these instruments are territorial and can displace forest loss elsewhere. We investigate the effects of protected areas and various land tenure regimes on deforestation and possible spillover effects in Bolivia, a global tropical deforestation hotspot. We use a spatial Durbin model to assess and compare the direct and indirect effects of protected areas and different land tenure forms on forest loss in Bolivia from 2010 to 2017. We find that protected areas have a strong direct effect on reducing deforestation. Protected areas – which in Bolivia are all based on co-management schemes - also protect forests in adjacent areas, showing an indirect protective spillover effect. Indigenous lands however only have direct forest protection effects. Non-indigenous collective lands and small private lands, which are associated to Andean settlers, as well as non-titled lands, show a strong positive direct effect on deforestation. At the same time, there is some evidence that non-indigenous collective lands also encourage deforestation in adjacent areas, indicating the existence of spillovers. Interestingly, areas with high poverty rate tend to be less affected by deforestation whatever tenure form. Our study stresses the need to assess more systematically the direct and indirect effects of land tenure and of territorial governance instruments on land use changes.
Alternative reproductive tactics and strategies (ARTS) refer to polymorphic reproductive behaviours in which in addition to the usual two sexes, there are one or more alternative morphs, usually male, that have evolved the ability to circumvent direct intra-sexual competition. Each morph has its own morphological, ecological, developmental, behavioural, life-history, and physiological profile that shifts the balance between reproduction and self-maintenance, one aspect being immunity. Immunoecological work on species with ARTS, which is the topic of this review, is particularly interesting because the alternative morphs make it possible to separate the effects of sex per se from other factors that in other species are inextricably linked with sex. We first summarize the evolution, development, and maintenance of ARTS. We then review immunoecological hypotheses relevant to species with ARTS, dividing them into physiological, life-history, and ecological hypotheses. In context of these hypotheses, we critically review in detail all immunoecological studies we could find on species with ARTS. Several interesting patterns emerge. Oddly, there is a paucity of studies on insects, despite the many benefits that arise from working with insects: larger sample sizes, simple immune systems, and countless forms of alternative reproductive strategies and tactics. Of all the hypotheses considered, the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis has generated the greatest amount of work, but not necessarily the greatest level of understanding. Unfortunately, it is often used as a general guiding principle rather than a source of explicitly articulated predictions. Other hypotheses are usually considered a posteriori, but perhaps they should take centre stage. Whereas blanket concepts such as “immunocompetence” and “androgens” might be useful to develop a rationale, predictions need to be far more explicitly articulated. Integration so far has been a one-way street, with ecologists delving deeper into physiology, sometimes at the cost of ignoring their organisms’ evolutionary history and ecology. One possible useful framework is to divide ecological and evolutionary factors affecting immunity into those that stimulate the immune system, and those that depress it. Finally, the contributions of genomics to ecology are being increasingly recognized and sometimes applied to species with ARTS, but we must ensure that evolutionary and ecological hypotheses drive the effort, as there is no grandeur in the strict reductionist view of life.
Here, we report the complete genome sequences of the soil oxalotrophic bacterium Cupriavidus oxalaticus Ox1 and a derived mCherry-tagged strain. The genome size is approximately 6.69 Mb, with a GC content of 66.9%. The genome sequence of C. oxalaticus Ox1 contains a complete operon for the degradation and assimilation of oxalate.
Many social animals travel in cohesive groups but some species, including chimpanzees, form flexible fission–fusion systems where individuals have some control over group cohesion and proximity to others. Here, we explored how male chimpanzees of the Sonso community of Budongo Forest, Uganda, use communication signals during resting, a context where the likelihood of group fission is high due to forthcoming travel. We focused on a context-specific vocalisation, the ‘rest hoo’, to investigate its function and determine whether it is produced intentionally. We found that this call was typically given towards the end of typical silent resting bouts, i.e., the period when individuals need to decide whether to continue travelling after a brief stop-over or to start a prolonged resting bout. Subjects rested longer after producing ‘rest hoos’ and their resting time increased with the number of calls produced. They also rested longer if their calls were answered. Furthermore, focal subjects’ resting time was prolonged after hearing others’ ‘rest hoos’. Subjects called more when with top proximity partners and in small parties and rested longer if a top proximity partner called. We also found an interaction effect between rank and grooming activity, with high-ranking males with a high grooming index calling less frequently than other males, suggesting that vocal communication may serve as a cohesion strategy alternative to tactile-based bonding. We discuss these different patterns and conclude that chimpanzee ‘rest hoos’ meet key criteria for intentional signalling. We suggest that ‘rest hoos’ are produced to prolong resting bouts with desired partners, which may function to increase social cohesion.
Primate vocal repertoires change slowly over evolutionary time, making them good indicators of phylogenetic relatedness. Occasionally, however, socioecological pressures cause rapid divergence, even in closely related species. Overall, it remains unclear how inertia and divergence interact to evolve species-specific vocal repertoires. We addressed this topic with a study of two closely related sympatric guenons: Diana monkeys (Cercopithecus diana) and Campbell’s monkeys (C. campbelli). We compiled published, long-term data to compare repertoire size, call morphology, and combinations in these species and complemented these data with new, machine-learning based acoustic analyses of calls made by three individuals of each species to assess the degree of individual differences in call types. In line with the phylogenetic inertia hypothesis, we found similarities in the overall call repertoires, with six of eight vocal units shared between the two species. The nonshared units all functioned in the predation context, suggesting that alarm calls are especially susceptible to evolutionary change. In addition, Campbell’s monkeys (the species more exposed to predation) produced more inconspicuous calls throughout their repertoire than Diana monkeys, suggesting that predation has a generalised impact on vocal structure. Finally, although both species combined calls flexibly, this feature was more prominent in Diana monkeys that live in larger groups and are less exposed to ground predators. This suggests that, although predation appears to favour the diversification of alarm call repertoires, it also inhibits the emergence of vocal combinations in social communication. We conclude that interspecies competition, and the niche specialisation this creates, is a key evolutionary driver of primate vocal behaviour. These conclusions are preliminary, because they are based on comparing only two species but open a promising avenue for broader-scale comparisons.
Philosophers, psychologists, and economists have reached the consensus that one can use two different kinds of regulation to achieve self-control. Synchronic regulation uses willpower to resist current temptation. Diachronic regulation implements a plan to avoid future temptation. Yet this consensus may rest on contaminated intuitions. Specifically, agents typically use willpower (synchronic regulation) to achieve their plans to avoid temptation (diachronic regulation). So even if cases of diachronic regulation seem to involve self-control, this may be because they are contaminated by synchronic regulation. We therefore developed a novel multifactorial method to disentangle synchronic and diachronic regulation. Using this method, we find that ordinary usage assumes that only synchronic––not diachronic––regulation counts as self-control. We find this pattern across four experiments involving different kinds of temptation, as well as a paradigmatic case of diachronic regulation based on the classic story of Odysseus and the Sirens. Our final experiment finds that self-control in a diachronic case depends on whether the agent uses synchronic regulation at two moments: when she (1) initiates and (2) follows-through on a plan to resist temptation. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that synchronic regulation is the sole difference maker in the folk concept of self-control.
Animal learning theory has been enormously influential in setting up laws of how individuals gradually learn associations and instrumentation by reinforcement. Yet, the theory rests on data collected from socially isolated laboratory animals, exposed to artificial cause–effect relations without visible agents. We review the primate vocal learning literature and find that animal learning theory performs poorly in accounting for real-life learning and evolutionarily relevant problem-solving. Instead, learning occurs when conspecifics act as event-causing agents, often without direct consequences for learners. We illustrate this with recent field studies, which suggest that the default mode of learning may not be through reinforcement and repeated trials but by acquiring scripts — mental representations of how events typically unfold. Becoming communicatively competent may be more about learning how events unfold than becoming conditioned to stimuli and responses.
We study an eigenvalue problem for the biharmonic operator with Neumann boundary conditions on domains of Riemannian manifolds. We discuss the weak formulation and the classical boundary conditions, and we describe a few properties of the eigenvalues. Moreover, we establish upper bounds compatible with the Weyl’s law under a given lower bound on the Ricci curvature.
Audience effects are key in studies of animal social cognition and are typically investigated during directed social interactions. Male chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, regularly perform aggressive displays in the presence of others, often targeting a specific group member, and combine this agonistic behaviour with acoustic signals. Here, we were interested in whether the production and structure of pant hoots, a long-distance signal, were influenced by audience composition (i.e. presence and absence of specific individuals). We investigated pant hoots produced during displays by adult and subadult males of Budongo Forest, Uganda. We found that males overall called more often when their preferred social partners and females were absent from the party, as well as when more dominant males were present. We then separately analysed the four phases of pant hoots, introduction, build-up, climax and let-down, and found that audience composition and social context could often explain the presence or absence of each phase. In addition, displays were often accompanied by drumming, especially by older males and when male audiences were small. Our study adds to the growing body of literature on audience effects and other social factors and shows their impact on the structure of a sophisticated vocal sequence, which enhances the communicative capacity in a species with limited vocal control.
Over the last decades, we witnessed a growing interest in animal cognition, in general, and in fish cognition, in particular. Here, we provide various study examples that employ an ecological approach to study cognition through field observations, field manipulations and laboratory tests on wild teleost fishes. In this review, we focus on cases with implications for understanding endotherm vertebrate cognition, that is, cases that show fishes possess supposedly ‘complex’ cognitive processes originally thought to warrant a more complex brain. Furthermore, in contrast to the classic interpretation of high/low performance as high/low cognitive abilities, incorporating an individual-level ecological approach reveals that low performance in a cognitive task may be caused by a mismatch between the experimental paradigm and the individual’s experience. The future avenue for wild fish cognition is to grasp better how individual, population and species differences in performance stem from differences in their ecological conditions.
In recent years, we witnessed an increasing number of funding agencies, scientific journals and scientists agreeing that society and science benefit from open access to research data. Benefits derive mainly from increased access to knowledge for all and improved transparency and credibility in academia. However, despite the advances in open science and open data, three significant aspects still need considerable policing: data quality, the accompanying summaries with basic information of the data files (i.e. metadata) and computational codes used to generate the research outcomes. Only by having these three components together, we can achieve efficient data sharing and reuse, and hence higher transparency. Here, we present two complementary approaches that potentially can help with shared data quality: (i) data file(s) sharing should be guided step‐by‐step in public archives with mandatory metadata, and (ii) journals creating assistant data editor positions at editorial boards with a leading role in data quality and computational reproducibility. Forty‐four editors‐in‐chief in the field of behaviour, ecology and evolution shared their opinion with us regarding these two approaches. Although most of the views were divided, the majority estimated that their current editorial board members do not have the necessary skills to assess the quality of shared data. Since data are the core of research studies, we should consider not only data presence but also quality as a requirement for publication. In your opinion, who is responsible for data quality check for scientific studies?.
The characterization of the karst conduit network is an essential task to understand the complex flow system within karst aquifers. However, this task is challenging and often associated with uncertainty. Equivalent porous media approaches for modeling flow in karst aquifers fall short of capturing the hydraulic effect of individual karst features, while process‐oriented karst evolution models imply major computational efforts. In this study, we apply the Stochastic Karst Simulator (SKS) developed by Borghi et al. (2012) to generate karst conduit networks at a regional scale of a highly karstified carbonate aquifer located in the Eastern Mediterranean region and extensively used for water supply. The SKS generates conduit network geometries reasonably quick, using a mathematical proxy that mimics conduit evolution. The conduit simulation is based on a conceptual model of the genesis of the aquifer, consisting of different karstification phases. The stochastic approach of the algorithm enables us to generate an ensemble of conduit network realizations and to represent the uncertainties of these simulations in a Karst Probability Map. With only soft input information to constrain conduit evolution, multiple equivalent realizations yield similar resulting network geometries, indicating a robust approach. The presented methodology is numerically efficient, and its input can be easily adjusted. Subsequently, the resulting stochastic spatial distribution of conductivities can be employed for the parametrization of regional karst groundwater models.
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2,493 members
Mihaela Nedelcu
  • Institut de sociologie (ISOCIO)
Alexander Kolpakov
  • Institut de mathématiques (IMA)
Nathalie Vuillemin
  • Chaire de littérature et savoirs
Jean-Marc Neuhaus
  • Institut de biologie (IBIOL)
Fabrice Clément
  • Cognitive Science Centre
Faubourg de l’Hôpital 41, 2000, Neuchâtel, NE, Switzerland
Head of institution
Prof. Dr. Kilian Stoffel, Rector of the University of Neuchâtel
+41 32 718 10 20 (Rectorat)