Brandon C. Wheeler

Postdoctoral Research Fellow 
Cognitive Ethology Lab 
German Primate Center (DPZ)
E-mail: bcwheeler43{at}
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Research interests

I am a primate behavioral ecologist broadly interested in the costs and benefits associated with group living and the role that signaling plays in moderating these costs and facilitating the benefits. My field research is focused primarily on anti-predator communication in wild tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella nigritus) in Iguazú National Park, Argentina, and uses a largely experimental approach.  Specifically, I use decoys of predators, playbacks of alarm calls and predator vocalizations, and controlled provisioning experiments to investigate the production and perception of "honest" and "deceptive" alarm calls, at both ultimate and proximate levels. My current work continues to use field experiments, integrated with hormonal and bioacoustic analysis (with Barbara Tiddi, Michael Heistermann  & Kurt Hammerschmidt of the DPZ), to better understand the proximate mechanisms underpinning "deceptive" alarm calls as well as apparent counter-deception among call receivers. In addition, I am also investigating the mechanisms by which capuchins acquire recognition of heterospecific alarm calls.

Other projects

In collaboration with Barbara Tiddi, Michael Heistermann, and Kurt Hammerschmidt, we are combining field experiments with hormone and bioacoustic analysis to investigate aspects of female sexual signaling and mate choice among wild tufted capuchins.

In collaboration with Andreas Koenig, Carola Borries, and Clara Scarry, we are testing several assumptions and predictions of ecological models of female social relationships.

Selected publications (click here for a full list of publications)

Wheeler, B.C., Tiddi, B. & Heistermann, M. (2014) Competition-induced stress does not explain deceptive alarm calling in tufted capuchin monkeys. Animal Behaviour 93: 49-58. pdf available via open access

Wheeler, B.C., Scarry, C.J. & Koenig, A. (2013) Rates of agonism among female primates: a cross-taxon perspective. Behavioral Ecology 24: 1369-1380. pdf available via open access

Wheeler, B.C. & Hammerschmidt, K. (2013). Proximate factors underpinning receiver responses to deceptive false alarm calls in wild tufted capuchin monkeys: Is it counterdeception? American Journal of Primatology 75: 715-725. pdf available via open access

Wheeler, B.C. and Fischer, J. (2012) Functionally referential signals: a promising paradigm whose time has passed. Evolutionary Anthropology 21: 195-205. link pdf

Wheeler, B.C. (2010). Production and perception of situationally variable alarm calls in wild tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella nigritus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64:989-1000. link pdf

Wheeler, B.C. (2010). Decrease in alarm call response among tufted capuchins in competitive feeding contexts: possible evidence for counterdeception. International Journal of Primatology 31:665-675. link pdf

Wheeler, B.C. (2009). Monkeys crying wolf? Tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella nigritus) use anti-predator calls to usurp resources from conspecifics. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 276: 3013-3018. pdf

Wheeler, B.C. (2008). Selfish or altruistic? An analysis of alarm call function in wild capuchin monkeys, Cebus apella nigritus. Animal Behaviour 76: 1465-1475. link pdf 

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