Lucie Rigaill

Adjunct Research Associate (also Graduate of the Doctoral Course)



Key words

  • Behavioral and Sensory Ecology

  • Animal reproduction

  • Sexual communication

  • Multimodal and multicomponent signals

  • Female traits

Multimodal sexual communication in primates

Reproduction is a crucial activity for animals which directly modulate individual’s fitness and therefore the survival of a group, a population, and to a larger scale to a species. However, reproduction imposes costs on individual, due to the investment of energetic resources into mating and reproduction (gamete production, maternal care) and to the physical costs of mating (sexual harassment, intra-sexual competition). It has been suggested sexual communication have evolved to accomplish reproduction efficiently. Sexual communication includes selection on females to signal their reproductive state or condition, and on males to discriminate that state, so as not to waste energy on non-reproductive mating. While female primates can display multiple information through multiple sensory channels (behavioral, auditory, visual, and olfactory communications) most studies still focus on investigating the signal content of one or few traits. Therefore, my work aims at conducting comparative studies to investigate the forms (traits and modalities involved) and functions (signaling and perceiving intra-cycle, inter-cycle, and inter-individual variations) of the sexual communication of various primate species to better understand how social and environmental constraints have modulated the evolution of primate sexual communication and mating strategies. This collaborative research involved researchers from Japan (KUPRI), France (CNRS - MNHN), UK (Durham and Wolverhampton Universities), and USA (New-York University).


Employment history

2020-21    Research Associate at CICASP,
Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University
2017-20    Program-Specific Assistant Professor,
Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University


2013-17    Doctoral Course in Primatology,
Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan
2009-11    M.Sc. in Physical Anthropology,
University of Aix-Marseille 2, France
2006-09    B.Sc. in Cellular Biology and Physiology,
University of Paris 7, France

Current Projects

My current project further explores the evolution of female colorful traits among primates. Across human cultures, red is steadily associated to love and fertility. Although probably reinforced by social learning, there is evidence that the link between red and fertility is not a product of societal conditioning alone and may have roots in human biological heritage. Thus, my project aims to determine whether women share with female primates a colorful trait involved in sexual communication. Especially, my research focuses on the role of lips coloration, from signal content to signal perception. My main questions are: Does fine-scale variation in lips coloration inform about the timing of ovulation / reflect individual differences in fertility? and, Is intra-cycle / inter-individual variation in lips coloration perceptible to men and women? This project was funded by a Grant-in-Aid for Research Activity start-up from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Selected Publications

L Rigaill, JP Higham, S Winters, C Garcia (2019) The redder the better? Information content of red skin coloration in female Japanese macaques. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 73:103. DOI:10.1007/s00265-019-2712-x

L Rigaill, N Suda-Hashimoto, L Ducroix, K Mouri, T Furuichi, C Garcia (2017) Testing the role of female urine on male sexual behaviors in captive Japanese macaques. International Journal of Primatology 38(5):823-837 DOI:10.1007/s10764-017-9980-y

L Rigaill, AJJ MacIntosh, JP Higham, S Winters, K Shimizu, K Mouri, T Suzumura, T Furuichi, C Garcia (2017) Testing for links between face color and age, dominance status, parity, weight and intestinal nematode infection in female Japanese macaques. Primates 58(1):83-91. DOI:10.1007/s10329-016-0575-6

L Rigaill, AJJ MacIntosh, JP Higham, S Winters, K Shimizu, K Mouri, T Furuichi, C Garcia (2015) Multimodal advertisement of pregnancy in free-ranging female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). PLoS ONE 10(8): e0135127. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0135127

L Rigaill, JP Higham, PC Lee, A Blin, C Garcia (2013) Multimodal sexual signaling and mating behavior in olive baboons (Papio anubis). American Journal of Primatology 75 (7):774–787. DOI:10.1002/ajp.22154


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

Research Gate: Lucie Rigaill