Valérie Dufour

V dufour

valerie.dufour(at) or valerie.dufour(at)

Tel : +

Personnal website

Link to Research gate


Scientist, permanent position at the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique


2004-2006 Post-doctoral fellow, Utrecht University-BPRC, NL

2006-2007 ATER, University of Strasbourg France

2007-2009 Post-doctoral fellow, St-Andrews Univ. and Living Links Centre, Edinburgh Zoo

2010 Post-doctoral fellow, CNRS, University of Strasbourg

2010 – today Permanent scientist (CR), CNRS, Strasbourg

2010 – HDR in Ethology, University of Strasbourg France

Current research

Economics in animals

My main research project consists in studying the evolution of economics in animals. This project is born from the observation that humans share, barter and trade to an extent not seen in other species. Transfers of services or even food can be seen in non-humans, but they are not always reciprocated. One can thus question whether they rely on similar cognitive calculations as bartering humans do. To answer this question, I study comparatively non-human primates (great apes and monkeys), corvids and canids using experimental techniques applicable to all species (the exchange task). I test the capacity of each species to anticipate or plan for a return, to risk losing food in an exchange, to maximize gains by investing differently according to prospective returns. I also investigate how economical skills emerge in humans by using a developmental approach. Studies are conducted with several European collaborators and host institutions : The Max Planck Institute, Germany ; the University of St-Andrews and RZSS, Scotland ; the Konrad-Lorenz-Institute in Grünau, Austria.

Social life and social cognition in rooks

Since 2010,  I also study the cognitive and social behaviour of corvids. I work with a group of social european corvids, the rooks (Corvus frugilegus). I investigate its social dynamics (effect of the loss or addition of new individuals on the network) and the modulations of the characteristics of the network with time (agression, dominance, affiliation, strength of the relationship). I study how these modulations are expressed in this type of society mostly based on pair bonds. This work was at the heart of  Palmyre Boucherie and Aïcha Mohamed Benkada, both former PhD students in the team.


Musical abilities in animals

More recently, I investigated the musical abilities of two species (chimpanzees) and Rooks.

Inbarney chimpanzees, I witnessed a very special bout of drumming that lasted for an unusual amount of time and that resembles what a human drum player would do (rhythm, no particular context, focuss from the performer on the « solo »).


Boucherie et al front page

In rooks, we are currently collecting vocalisations and exploring the diversity of vocal units per individual in the production of long series of uninterrupted calls. We are also studying the rhythmicity of these productions. More generally we are investigating whether individual and sub-group signatures can be used to help resolve the human-wildlife conflict between humans and corvids.

Selected publications

Romain A., Broihanne M.-H., De Marco A., Ngoubangoye B., Call J., Rebout N & Dufour V. (2021). Non-human primates use combined rules when deciding under ambiguity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, available online.

Dufour V., Broihanne M.H. & Wascher C.A.F.  (2020). Corvids avoid odd evaluation by following simple rules in a risky exchange task. Ethology, 126, 153-164. DOI:10.1111/eth.12994

Benti B., Curé C. & Dufour V. (2019). Individual signature in the most common and context-independent call of the Rook (Corvus frugilegus), Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 131, 373-381.

Broihanne M.-H., Romain A., Call J., Thierry B., Wascher C.A.F., De Marco A., Verrier D., & Dufour V. (2019). Monkeys (Sapajus apella and Macaca tonkeana) and great apes (Gorilla gorilla, Pongo pygmaeus, Pan paniscus and Pan troglodytes) play for the highest bid. Journal of comparative psychology. 133, 301-312. 10.1037/com0000153

Dufour V., Pasquaretta C., Gayet P. & Sterck L.  (2017). The extraordinary nature of Barney’s drumming: a complementary study of ordinary noise making in chimpanzees. Frontiers in neuroscience, 11, 2.

Boucherie, P. H. Sosa, S., Pasquaretta, C. & Dufour, V. (2016). A longitudinal network analysis of social dynamics in rooks (Corvus frugilegus): repeated group modifications do not affect social network in captive rooks. Current Zoology, 63: 379-388.

Boucherie P., Mariette M., Bret C. & Dufour V. (2016). Can monogamous birds bond outside the mated pair? Social relationships in adult rooks (Corvus frugilegus).  Behaviour, 153: 897-925.

Dufour V., Poulin N., Curé C. & Sterck E.H.M. (2015). Chimpanzee drumming, a spontaneous performance with characteristics of human musical drumming. Scientific reports, 5, 1132.

Bourjade M., Call J., Pelé M., Maumy, M & Dufour V. (2014). Bonobos and orang-utans, but not chimpanzees, flexibly plan for the future in a token exchange task. Animal Cognition, 17: 1329-1340.

Steelandt S., Broihanne M.H., Romain A., Thierry B. & Dufour V. (2013). Decision-making under risk of loss in children. PLoS One, 8: e52316.