Lucie Rigaill

Program-Specific Assistant Professor

Social Systems Evolution


  • Sexual selection
  • Reproduction and mating strategies
  • Multimodal sexual signaling
  • Post-conception mating

Multimodal sexual signaling

In behavioral ecology, animal communication is described as “the process in which actors use specially designed signals or displays to modify the behavior of reactors” (Krebs and Davies 1993). Animals have a wide repertoire of signals and cues allowing them to exchange information through different sensory channels, i.e. behavioral, visual, auditory, and olfactory communication. I am interested in sexual communication and how female sexual signals & cues modulate male and female mating strategies. Since reproduction and mating can be very costly to females and males, there should have been selection for the ability to signal (females) and discriminate (males) reproductive state in order not to waste energy on non-reproductive mating.

The use of multiple signals and cues (visual, behavioral, and auditory signals & olfactory cues) may allow a more accurate assessment of female reproductive status and a decrease in mate choice errors, as females are less able to “cheat” about their reproductive status when displaying multiple cues. Males and females might benefit from multimodal signaling by combining long-distance cues with short-distance cues, to which different males (consorting and non-consorting) have a differential access. This difference in the signals’ “active spaces” may enable females and males to establish different mating strategies, e.g. indirect female mate choice, male-male competition.

In an evolutionary perspective, I have been studying multimodal sexual advertisements of the reproductive status (ovulation timing and pregnancy) in olive baboons and Japanese macaques. The evolution of such framework of signaling may be inherent to sexual and environmental selections as they have critical consequences on fitness, and to date more studies on the role of multimodal sexual advertisements are needed. I hope my research will help to enhance our knowledge of how male primates detect complex cues to maximize their chances of producing progeny, which is a major issue in evolutionary biology


  • 2013-17    Doctoral Course in Primatology “Multimodal sexual signaling and mating strategies in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)” Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan
  • 2011           M.Sc. in Physical Anthropology “Sexual signaling and mating behavior in olive baboons (Papio anubis)” University of Aix-Marseille 2, France
  • 2009          B.Sc. in Cellular Biology and Physiology University of Paris 7, France

Selected Publications

2016   L Rigaill, AJJ MacIntosh, JP Higham, S Winters, K Shimizu, K Mouri, T Suzumura, T Furuichi, C Garcia. No evidence that face color varies with age, dominance status, parity, weight and intestinal nematode infection in female Japanese macaques. Primates (accepted)

2015   L Rigaill, AJJ MacIntosh, JP Higham, S Winters, K Shimizu, K Mouri, T Furuichi, C Garcia. Multimodal advertisement of pregnancy in free-ranging female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). PLoS ONE 10(8): e0135127

2014   L Rigaill. Multimodal ovulatory signaling in human and non-human primates. Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris. 26 (2-3):161-165

2013   L Rigaill, JP Higham, PC Lee, A Blin, C Garcia. Multimodal sexual signaling and mating behavior in olive baboons (Papio anubis). American Journal of Primatology 75 (7):774–787


Social Systems Evolution Section

Kyoto University Primate Research Institute
41-2 Kanrin, Inuyama, Aichi
Japan 484-8506