Dr. Isabelle CHARRIER

Associate Researcher - CNRS

Université Paris Sud, bat.446
91405 Orsay cedex


Research Interest

     I am interested in animal communication in mammals especially in pinnipeds. I investigate the coding-decoding processes of individual recognition between mother and offspring, and how individual recognition systmes vary in regards to ecological and environmental contraints. Pinnipeds are an excellent model to study vocal communication since they show different social structure (from solitary to highly colonial species) and different reproductive systems (from serial monogamous to highly polygynous species). Involvement of other sensorial modalities in individual recognition mechanisms such as vision and olfactory are also investigated.

Current Projects & Collaborations

Projects on Australian sea lions in collaboration with Pr. Robert Harcourt, Marine Mammal Research Group, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

   - Mother-pup individual recognition and multi-modal signaling in the Australian sea lion, Neophoca cinerea (B. PITCHER PhD thesis). Collaboration with Dr. Benoist SCHAAL (CESG, France).

  - Mating system and population structure of the Australian sea lion Neophoca cinerea (H. AHONEN PhD thesis). Collaboration with Dr. Adam STOW (Macquarie Uni, Bio Dpt)

   - Males vocal communication in Australian sea lion (Honor theses: J. Gwilliam and M. Attard)

Fundings: Pr. Rob HARCOURT, Macquarie University, Sydney, MURG grants (2005-2008) & CNRS (France).

Project on Northern Elephant seals in collaboration with Dr. Colleen Reichmuth, Pinniped Cognition & Sensory Systems laboratory, UCSG, USA.

- Males vocal behaviour: dominance, social rank & territorial defence

Project on Harbour Seal in collaboration with Dr. Gwenael Beauplet, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

- Mother-pup vocal communication and recognition: underwater and in-air recognition

Projects on Walrus in collaborations with Canadian researchers (field study); and with Dolfinarium-Harderwijk and l'Oceanographic-Valencia (captive studies).

    - Mother-calf individual vocal recognition.

    - Group recognition and vocal behaviour.

    - Males vocal behaviour

Fundings: French Polar Institute, IPEV, Arctic research grants (2006, 2008, 2011), National Geographic CRE grant (2011).

Some Selected Publications

Charrier, I., Mathevon, N. and Aubin, T. (2013) Bearded seal males perceive geographic variation in their trills. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 67(10)1679-1689.

Charrier, I., Ahonen, H. & Harcourt, R.G. 2011. What Makes an Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) Male’s Bark Threatening? Journal of Comparative Psychology 125(4): 385-392.

Pitcher B. J. & Harcourt R. G., Schaal, B., Charrier, I. 2011. Social olfaction in marine mammals: wild female Australian sea lions can identify their pup’s scent. Biology Letters 7, 60-62.

Charrier, I., Aubin, T. & Mathevon, N. 2010. Calf’s vocal recognition by Atlantic walrus mothers: ecological constraints and adaptations. Animal Cognition 13, 471-482.

Charrier I., Pitcher B. J. & Harcourt R. G. 2009. Vocal recognition of mothers by Australian sea lion pups: individual signature and environmental constraints. Animal Behaviour 78, 1127-1134.

Charrier, I., Mathevon, N., & Jouventin, P. 2003. Vocal signature recognition of mothers by fur seal pups. Animal Behaviour, 65, 543-550.

Charrier, I., Mathevon, N., Jouventin, P. 2001. Mother's voice recognition by seal pups. Nature, 412, 873.


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