Acoustic Variability and Individual Distinctiveness in the Vocal Repertoire of Red-Capped Mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus)

Helene Bouchet, Catherine Blois-Heulin, Anne-Sophie Pellier, Klaus Zuberbuehler, Alban Lemasson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Acoustic variability and individual distinctiveness of vocal signals are expected to vary with both their communicative function and the need for individual recognition during social interactions. So far, few attempts have been made to comparatively study these features across the different call types within a species' vocal repertoire. We collected recordings of the six most common call types from 14 red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus) to assess intra- and interindividual acoustic variability, using a range of temporal and frequency parameters. Acoustic variability was highest in contact and threat calls, intermediate in food calls, and lowest in loud and alarm calls. Individual distinctiveness was high in contact, threat, loud and alarm calls, and low in food calls. In sum, calls mediating intragroup social interactions were structurally most variable and individually most distinctive, highlighting the key role that social factors must have played in the evolution of the vocal repertoire in this species. We discuss these findings in light of existing hypotheses of acoustic variability in primate vocal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date29 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • individual identity
  • acoustic variability
  • call function
  • vocal repertoire
  • nonhuman primate


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