top of page

Nicolas Mathevon

Professor (ranked distinguished PREX2), University of Saint-Etienne
Animal Behavior / Bioacoustics
Senior member of the Institut universitaire de France
Director of Studies, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Director of the ENES Team
full CV

Research interests: Function and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Animals and Humans.

Major collaborations: Dr. T. Aubin, information coding in vertebrate vocalizations, CNRS, France; Dr. I Charrier, acoustic communication in marine mammals, CNRS; Dr. N Grimault, crocodilian bioacoustics, CNRS; Dr. F Jouen, human baby cries, EPHE, France; Dr. F Levréro, human baby cries, Univ Lyon/Saint-Etienne, France; Dr. F Sèbe, ecoacoustics and acoustic monitoring, Univ Lyon/Saint-Etienne; Prof. H Patural, long-term monitoring of cries in neonates, Univ Lyon/Saint-Etienne; Dr. R Peyron, brain activation induced by human baby’s cries, Univ Lyon/Saint-Etienne; Prof D Reby, Human non-verbal acoustic communication, Univ. Lyon/Saint-Etienne; Dr. C Reichmuth, acoustic communication in the elephant seal, Univ Calif, Santa Cruz, USA; Prof F Theunissen, information coding in acoustic signals, Univ Calif, Berkeley, USA; Prof Z Campos, Acoustic communication in crocodilians, EMBRAPA, Brazil.

Evolution of acoustic signals and speciation

- Garcia M, Theunissen F, Sèbe F, Clavel J, Ravignani A, Marin-Cudraz T, Fuchs J, Mathevon N, in press. Evolution of communication signals and information during species radiation. Nature Communications.

- Charrier I, Mathevon N, Aubin T, 2013. Bearded seal males perceive geographical variation in their trills. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 67:1679-1689.

- Curé C, Aubin T, Mathevon N, 2010. Intra-sex vocal interactions in two hybridizing seabird species: the Yelkouan and the Balearic shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan and P. mauretanicus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64:1823-1837.

- Vergne A, Pritz MB, Mathevon N, 2009. Acoustic communication in crocodilians: from behaviour to brain. Biological Reviews, 84:391-411.

- Curé C, Aubin T, Mathevon N, 2009. Acoustic convergence and divergence in two sympatric burrowing nocturnal seabirds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 96:115-134.


Information coding in acoustic signals

Coding rules

- Favaro L, Gamba M, Cresta E, Fumagalli E, Bandoli F, Pilenga C, Isaja V, Mathevon N, Reby D, 2020. Do penguins’ vocal sequences conform to linguistic laws? Biology Letters, 16: 20190589.

- Mathevon N, Casey C, Reichmuth C, Charrier I, 2017. Northern elephant seals memorize the rhythm and timbre of their rivals’ voices. Current Biology, 27:2352-2356.

- Curé C, Mathevon N, Aubin T, 2016. Mate vocal recognition in the Cory’s shearwater Calonectris diomedea: Do females and males share the same acoustic code? Behavioural Processes, 128:96-102.

- Bertucci F, Attia J, Beauchaud M, Mathevon N, 2013. The relevance of temporal cues in a fish sound: a first experimental investigation using modified signals. Animal Cognition, 16:45-54.

- Vignal C, Mathevon N, 2011. Effect of acoustic cues modifications on evoked vocal response to calls in zebra finches. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 125:150-161.

Static information – Species and Individual signatures

- Keenan S, Mathevon N, Stevens JMG, Nicolè F, Zuberbühler K, Guéry JP, Levréro F, in press. The reliability of individual vocal signature varies across the bonobos’ graded repertoire. Animal Behaviour.

- Vergne AL, Aubin T, Martin S, Mathevon N, 2012. Acoustic communication in crocodilians: Information encoding and species specificity value of juvenile calls. Animal Cognition, 15:1095-1109.

- Bertucci F, Attia J, Beauchaud M, Mathevon N, 2012. Sounds produced by the cichlid fish Metriaclima zebra allow reliable estimation of size and provide information on individual identity. Journal of Fish Biology, 4:752-766.

- Mathevon N, Koralek A, Weldele M, Glickman S, Theunissen F, 2010. What the hyena’s laugh tells: Sex, age, dominance and individual signature in the giggling call of Crocuta crocuta. BMC Ecology, 10:9.

- Aubin T, Mathevon N, Staszewski V, Boulinier T. 2007. Acoustic communication in the kittiwake Rissa tridactyla: potential cues for sexual and individual signatures in long calls. Polar Biology, 30:1027-1033.

- Vergne A, Avril A, Martin S, Mathevon N, 2007. Parent-offspring communication in the Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus: do newborns’calls show an individual signature? Naturwissenschaften, 94:49-54.

- Mathevon N, Charrier I, Jouventin P, 2003. Potential of individual recognition in acoustic signals: A comparative study of two gulls with different nesting patterns. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 326: 329-337.

- 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, 2003. Individuality in the voice of fur seal females : an analysis study of the pup attraction call in Arctocephalus tropicalis. Marine Mammal Science, 19: 161-172.

- Charrier I, Jouventin P, Mathevon N, Aubin T, 2001.  Individual identity coding depends on call type in the South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki. Polar Biology, 24: 378-382.

- Mathevon N, 1997. Individuality of contact calls in the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and the problem of background noise in a colony. Ibis, 139: 513-517.

- Mathevon N, 1996. What parameters can be used for individual acoustic recognition by the Greater Flamingo ? Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences de Paris, 319: 29-32 .


Dynamic information

- Perez E, Elie J, Soulage CO, Soula HA, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2012. The acoustic expressions of stress in a songbird: does corticosterone drive isolation-induced modifications of zebra finch calls? Hormones and Behaviour, 61:573-581.

- Elie JE, Soula HA, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2011. Dynamics of communal vocalizations in a social songbird, the zebra finch. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 129:4037-4046.

Parent-offspring communication

- Ligout S, Dentressangle F, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2016. Not for parents only: Begging calls allow nest-sibling recognition in juvenile zebra finches. Ethology 122:193-206.

- Chabert T, Colin A, Aubin T, Shacks V, Bourquin S, Mathevon N, 2015. Size does matter: Nile crocodile mothers react more to the voice of smaller juveniles. Scientific Reports 5:15547.

- Levréro F, Mathevon N, 2013. Vocal signature in wild infant chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology, 75:324-332.

- Levréro F, Blanc A, Mathevon N, 2012. Response to begging calls by zebra finch parents: ‘first come, first served’ rule may overcome a parental preference between chicks. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 335:135-141.

- Vergne AL, Aubin T, Taylor, P, Mathevon N, 2011. Acoustic signals of baby black caimans. Zoology, 114:313-378.

- Blanc A, Ogier N, Roux A, Denizeau S, Mathevon N, 2010. Begging coordination between siblings in Black-headed gulls. Comptes Rendus Biologie, 333:688-693.

- Mulard H, Vignal C, Pelletier L, Blanc A, Mathevon N, 2010. From preferential response to parental calls to sex-specific response to conspecifics calls in juvenile zebra finches. Animal Behaviour, 80:189-195.

40- Charrier I, Aubin T, Mathevon N, 2010. Mother-Calf vocal communication in Atlantic walrus: a first field experimental study. Animal Cognition, 13:471-482.

- Levrero F, Durand M, Vignal C, Blanc A, Mathevon N, 2009. Begging calls support offspring individual identity and recognition by zebra finch parents. Comptes Rendus Biologie, 332:579-589.

- Vergne A, Mathevon N, 2008. Crocodile egg sounds signal hatching time. Current Biology, 18:R513-R514.

- Mathevon N, Charrier I, 2004. Parent-offspring conflict and the coordination of siblings in gulls. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 271: S145-S147.

- Charrier I, Mathevon N, Jouventin P, 2003. Fur seal mother memorises growing pup’s voice steps: Adaptation to long-term recognition or evolutionary by-product? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 80: 305-312.

- Charrier I, Mathevon N, Hassnaoui M, Carraro L, Jouventin P., 2002. The Subantarctic fur seal switches its begging behaviour during maternal absence. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 80: 1250-1255.

- Charrier I, Mathevon N, Jouventin P., 2002. How does a fur seal mother recognize the voice of her pup? An experimental study of Arctocephalus tropicalis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 205: 603-612.

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

- Charrier I, Mathevon N, Jouventin P, Aubin T, 2001.  Acoustic communication in a Black-headed Gull colony: How do chicks identify their parents ? Ethology, 107: 961-974.


Acoustic communication between sexual partners

- Hernandez AM, Perez EC, Mulard H, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2016. Mate call as reward: Acoustic communication signals can acquire positive reinforcing values during adulthood in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 130:36-43.

- Dentressangle F, Aubin T, Mathevon N, 2012. Males use time whereas females prefer harmony: individual call recognition in the dimorphic blue footed booby. Animal Behaviour, 84:413-420.

- Curé C, Aubin T, Mathevon N, 2011. Sex discrimination and mate recognition by voice in the Yelkouan shearwater Puffinus yelkouan. Bioacoustics, 20:235-250.

- Elie JE, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2011. Same-sex pair-bonds are equivalent to male-female bonds in a life-long socially monogamous songbird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65:2197-2208.

- Elie J, Mariette MM, Soula HA, Griffith SC, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2010. Vocal communication at nest between mates in wild zebra finches: a private vocal duet? Animal Behaviour, 80:597-605.

- Vignal C, Mathevon N, Mottin S, 2008. Mate recognition by female zebra finch: Analysis of individuality in male call and first investigations on female decoding process. Behavioural Processes, 77:191-198.

- Vignal C, Mathevon N, Mottin S, 2004. Audience drives male songbird response to partner’s voice. Nature, 430:448-451.


Intra-sexual selection

- Casey C, Charrier I, Mathevon N, Reichmuth C, 2015. Rival assessment among northern elephant seals: evidence of associative learning during male-male contests. Royal Society Open Science 2:150228.

- Draganoiu T, Moreau A, Ravaux L, Bonckaert W, Mathevon N, 2014. Song stability and neighbour recognition in a migratory songbird, the black redstart. Behaviour 151:435-453.

- Curé C, Mathevon N, Mundry R, Aubin T, 2012. Acoustic cues used for species recognition can differ between sexes and between sibling species: evidence in shearwaters. Animal Behaviour, 84:239-250.

- Bertucci F, Beauchaud M, Attia J, Mathevon N, 2010. Sounds modulate males’aggressiveness in a Cichlid fish. Ethology, 116:1179-1188.


Ecology of acoustic communication

- Aubin T, DaSilva M, Boscolo D, Mathevon N, 2014. Species identity coding by the song of a rainforest warbler: An adaptation to long-range transmission? Acta Acustica 100:638-648.

- Mouterde S, Theunissen F, Elie JE, Mathevon N, 2014. Learning to cope with degraded sounds: Female zebra finches can improve their expertise at discriminating between male voices at long distance. Journal of Experimental Biology 217:3169-3177.

- Mouterde S, Theunissen F, Elie JE, Vignal C, Mathevon N, 2014. Acoustic communication and sound degradation: How do the individual signatures of male and female zebra finch calls transmit over distance? PloS ONE 9(7):e102842.

- Mathevon N, Aubin T, Vielliard J, Da Silva ML, Sebe F, Boscolo D, 2008. Singing in the rain forest: How a tropical bird song transfers information. PloS ONE, 3(2):e1580.

- Mathevon N, Dabelsteen T, Blumenrath S, 2005. Are high perches in the Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla song or listening posts ? A sound transmission study. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 117:442-449.

- Aubin T, Mathevon N, da Silva ML, Vielliard JME, Sebe F, 2004. How a simple and stereotyped acoustic signal transmits individual information: the song of the white-browed warbler Basileuterus leucoblepharus. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, 76:335-344.

- Dabelsteen T, Mathevon N, 2002. Why do songbirds sing intensively at dawn ? A test of the acoustic transmission hypothesis. Acta Ethologica, 4: 65-72.

- Mathevon N, Aubin T, 2001. Sound-based species-specific recognition in the blackcap Sylvia atricapilla shows high tolerance to signal modifications. Behaviour, 138: 511-524.

- Mathevon N, 1998. Degraded temporal sound features as a function of distance and potential as cues for ranging in birds. Bioacoustics, 9: 17-33.

- Mathevon N, Aubin T, 1997. Reaction to conspecific degraded song by the wren Troglodytes troglodytes : Territorial response and choice of song post. Behavioural Processes, 39: 77-84.

- Mathevon N, Aubin T, Brémond JC, 1997. Propagation of bird acoustic signals: Comparative study of starling and blackbird distress calls. Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences de Paris, 320: 869-876.

- Mathevon N, Aubin T, Dabelsteen T, 1996. Song degradation during long-range propagation: importance of song post in the wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Ethology, 102: 397-412.

- Aubin T, Mathevon N, 1995. Adaptation to severe conditions of propagation: long-distance distress calls and courtship calls of a colonial seabird. Bioacoustics, 6: 153-161.


Ontogeny of vocal communication

- Casey C, Charrier I, Mathevon N, Nasr C, Forman P, Reichmuth C, 2020. The genesis of giants: Behavioural ontogeny of male northern elephant seals. Animal Behaviour, 166:247-259.

- Fouquet M, Pisanski K, Mathevon N, Reby D, 2016. Seven and Up: Voice pitch in childhood predicts voice pitch in adulthood. Royal Society Open Science, 3:160395.

- Keenan S, Mathevon N, Steven JMG, Guéry JP, Zuberbuhler K, Levréro F, 2016. Enduring voice recognition in bonobos. Scientific Reports, 6:22046.

- Bertucci F, Scaion D, Beauchaud M, Attia J, Mathevon N, 2012. Ontogenesis of agonistic vocalizations in the cichlid fish Metriaclima zebra. Comptes Rendus Biologie, 35:529-534.


Human baby cries

- Bouchet H, Plat A, Levrero F, Reby D, Patural H, Mathevon N, 2020. Baby cry recognition is independent of motherhood but improved by experience and exposure. Proceedings Royal Society London B, 287:20192499.

- Levréro F, Mathevon N, Pisanski K, Gustafsson E, Reby D, 2018. The pitch of babies’ cries predicts their voice pitch at age five. Biology Letters, 14:20180065.

- Koutseff A, Reby D, Martin O, Levréro F, Patural H, Mathevon N, 2018. The acoustic space of pain: Cries as indicators of distress recovering dynamics in preverbal infants. Bioacoustics, 27:313-325.

- Reby D, Levréro F, Gustafsson E, Mathevon N, 2016. Sex stereotypes influence adults’ perception of babies’ cries. BMC Psychology, 4:19.

- Gustafsson E, Levrero F, Reby D, Mathevon N, 2013. Fathers are just as good as mothers at recognizing the cries of their baby. Nature Communications 4:1698. This paper has been enlighted by Nat.Com. (Press release).


Sound localization

- Papet L, Raymond M, Boyer N, Mathevon N, Grimault N, in press. Crocodiles use both interaural level differences and interaural time differences to locate a sound source. JASA Express Letters.

- Papet L, Grimault N, Boyer N, Mathevon N, 2019. Influence of head morphology and natural postures on sound localization cues in crocodilians. Royal Society Open Science, 6:190423.


Neurobiology of acoustic communication

- Mouterde S, Elie J, Mathevon N, Theunissen F, 2017. Single neurons in the avian auditory cortex encode individual identity and propagation distance in naturally degraded communication calls. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37:3491-3510.

- Elie JE, Soula H, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2015. Housing conditions and sacrifice protocol affect neural activity and vocal behavior in a songbird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Comptes Rendus Biologie 338:825-837.

- Menardy F, Dutrieux G, Bouaziz J, Bozon B, Vignal C, Mathevon N, DelNegro C, 2012. Social experience affects neuronal responses to male calls in adult female zebra finches. European Journal of Neuroscience, 35:1322-1336.

- Mottin S, Montcel B, Guillet de Chatelus H, Ramstein S, Vignal C, Mathevon N, 2011. Functional white-laser imaging to study brain oxygen uncoupling/recoupling in songbirds. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 31:393-400.

- Gobes S, ter Haar S, Vignal C, Vergne A, Mathevon N, Bolhuis J, 2009. Differential responsiveness in brain and behavior to sexually dimorphic long calls in male and female zebra finches. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 516:312-320.

- Vignal C, Bouchut C, Mathevon N, 2008. Sound-induced brain activity depends on stimulus subjective salience in female zebra finches. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 331:347-356.

- Boumans T, Vignal C, Smolders A, Sijbers J, Verhoye M, Van Audekerke, Mathevon N, Van der Linden A, 2008. Functional magnetic resonance imaging in zebra finch discerns the neural substrate involved in segregation of conspecific song from background noise. Journal of Neurophysiology, 99:931-938.

- Ramstein S, Vignal C, Mathevon N, Mottin S, 2005. In-vivo and non invasive optical probing of the songbird brain. Applied Optics, 44:6197-6204.

- Vignal C, Andru J, Mathevon N, 2005. Social context modulates behavioural and brain immediate early gene responses to sound in male songbird. European Journal of Neuroscience, 22:949-955.

- Vignal C, Attia J, Mathevon N, Beauchaud M, 2004. Background noise does not modify song-induced genic activation in the bird brain. Behavioural Brain Research, 153:241-248.

Inter-specific communication

- Ben-Aderet T, Gallego-Abenza M, Reby D, Mathevon N, 2017. Dog-directed speech: why do we use it and do dogs pay attention to it? Proceedings Royal Society London B, 284:20162429.

- Kelly T, Reby D, Levréro F, Keenan S, Gustafsson E, Koutseff A, Mathevon N, 2017. Adult human perception of distress in the cries of bonobo, chimpanzee, and human infants.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 120:919-930.


Multi-modal communication

- Chabrolles L, Coureaud G, Boyer N, Mathevon N, Beauchaud M, 2017. Cross-sensory modulation in a future top predator, the young Nile crocodile. Royal Society Open Science, 4:170386.

- Amorim C, Fonseca PJ, Mathevon N, Beauchaud M, 2019. Assessment of fighting ability in the vocal cichlid Metriaclima zebra in face of incongruent audiovisual information. Biology Open, 8: bio043356.


Ecoacoustics and animal conservation

- Betton T, Foulche K, Menoni E, Novoa C, Nicolé F, Van Niekerk M, Mathevon N, Sèbe F, submit. Acoustic monitoring of biodiversity response to habitat restoration.

- Favaro L, Cresta E, Friard O, Ludynia K, Mathevon N, Pichegru L, Reby D, Gamba M, 2021. Passive acoustic monitoring of the endangered African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) using autonomous recording units and ecoacoustic indices. Ibis.

- Gallego-Abenza M, Mathevon N, Wheatcroft D, 2020. Experience modulates an insect’s response to anthropogenic noise. Behavioral Ecology, 31:90-96.

- Lemaire J, Mathevon N, Aubin T, Gaucher P, Marquis O, 2020. Observations on breeding site, bioacoustics and biometry of hatchlings of Paleosuchus trigonatus (Schneider, 1801) from the French Guiana (Crocodylia: Alligatoridae). Herpetology Notes, 13:513-516.

- Marin-Cudraz T, Muffat-Joly B, Novoa C, Aubry P, Desmet JF, Mahamoud-Issa M, Nicolè F, Van Niekerk MH, Mathevon N, Sèbe F, 2019. Acoustic monitoring of rock ptarmigan: A multi-year comparison with point-count protocol. Ecological Indicators, 101:710-719.

- Grava T, Mathevon N, Place E, Balluet P, 2008. Individual acoustic monitoring of the European Eagle Owl Bubo bubo. Ibis, 150:279-287.

- Bourgeois K, Curé C, Legrand J, Gomez Diaz E, Vidal E, Aubin T, Mathevon N 2007. Morphological versus acoustic analysis: what is the most efficient method for sexing Yelkouan shearwaters Puffinus yelkouan? Journal of Ornithology, 148:261-269.

bottom of page