Context-related call combinations in female Diana monkeys

Agnes Candiotti, Klaus Zuberbühler & Alban Lemasson

Résumé Non-human primates possess species-specific repertoires of acoustically distinct call types that can be found in adults in predictable ways. Evidence for vocal flexibility is generally rare and typically restricted to acoustic variants within the main call types or sequential production of multiple calls. So far, evidence for context-specific call sequences has been mainly in relation to external disturbances, particularly predation. In this study, we investigated extensively the vocal behaviour of free-ranging and individually identified Diana monkeys in non-predatory contexts. We found that adult females produced four vocal structures alone ('H', 'L', 'R' and 'A' calls, the latter consisting of two subtypes) or combined in non-random ways ('HA', 'LA' and 'RA' call combinations) in relation to ongoing behaviour or external events. Specifically, the concatenation of an introductory call with the most frequently emitted and contextually neutral 'A' call seems to function as a contextual refiner of this potential individual identifier. Our results demonstrate that some non-human primates are able to increase the effective size of their small vocal repertoire not only by varying the acoustic structure of basic call types but also by combining them into more complex structures. We have demonstrated this phenomenon for a category of vocalisations with a purely social function and discuss the implications of these findings for evolutionary theories of primate vocal communication.
Citation Candiotti, A., Zuberbühler, K., & Lemasson, A. (2012). Context-related call combinations in female Diana monkeys. Animal Cognition, 15(3), 327-339.
Type Article de périodique (Anglais)
Date de publication 2012
Nom du périodique Animal Cognition
Volume 15
Numéro 3
Pages 327-339