Female putty-nosed monkeys use experimentally altered contextual information to disambiguate the cause of male alarm calls

Kate Arnold, Klaus Zuberbuehler

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46 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Many animal vocal signals are given in a wide range of contexts which can sometimes have little in common. Yet, to respond adaptively, listeners must find ways to identify the cause of a signal, or at least rule out alternatives. Here, we investigate the nature of this process in putty-nosed monkeys, a forest primate. In this species, adult males have a very restricted repertoire of vocalizations which are given in response to a wide variety of events occurring under conditions of limited visibility. We carried out a series of field playback experiments on females (N = 6) in a habituated group in Gashaka Gumti National Park, Nigeria, in which male alarm/loud calls were presented either alone, or following acoustic information that simulated the occurrence of natural disturbances. We demonstrate that listeners appear to integrate contextual information in order to distinguish among possible causes of calls. We conclude that, in many cases, pragmatic aspects of communication play a crucial role in call interpretation and place a premium on listeners' abilities to integrate information from different sources.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65660
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2013

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