Dorothy Cheney

Professor of Biology
353 Stephen A. Levin Building
Neurobiology, Behavior, and Physiology

Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1977

Research Interests: 


primate behavior

My research focuses on the communication and social behavior of non-human primates. My current research is conducted on free-ranging baboons in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. My research is conducted jointly with Robert Seyfarth, a member of Penn’s Psychology Department.

Click here for a full description of my research on the Okavango Delta baboons.

I have also worked with vervet monkeys in Amboseli National Park in Kenya and mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Our earlier work on vervet monkeys focused in part on the semantic content of alarm, inter-group, and within-group calls. Through the use of playback experiments, we investigated how monkeys perceive and classify their vocalizations. Our research also explored kin recognition, reciprocity, and knowledge of other species’ behavior. We have continued to focus on many of these issues in our work with baboons.

Our graduate students have conducted research on a variety of different species, including diana monkeys and. mangabeys in the Ivory Coast, spider monkeys in Mexico, and cebus monkeys in Costa Rica.

Selected Publications: 

Publications are listed at our Baboon Research web site.

Courses Taught: 


  • BIOL 231 / BIBB 231 / PSYC 131, Animal Behavior, Spring 2007
  • BIOL 432/PSYC 431, Animal Cognition, Spring 2007