Predator and non-predator long-distance calls in Guereza colobus monkeys

Anne Marijke Schel, Klaus Zuberbuehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


East African Guereza colobus monkey males are known for their conspicuous roaring behaviour; a spectacle that can dominate the predawn hours of African forests. Recent research has shown that these monkeys also produce roars during daytime hours in response to predators. While roars to leopards and eagles differ in how roaring phrases are assembled into sequences, there are no obvious structural differences between predawn roars and roars to eagles. Although recipients could use daytime information to disambiguate between the two contexts, this may be a risky strategy because eagles can be active before dawn. We carried out acoustic analyses, which showed that the duration of the first roaring phrase was significantly longer in predawn roars compared to eagle roars. Furthermore, the initial call repetition rate was faster in response to eagle roars compared to predawn roars. Apart from these two differences, all other acoustic characteristics were identical between the two contexts. Although these monkeys exhibit some of the most basic vocal behaviour found in non-human primates, callers are able to provide reliable contextual information by varying the duration and assemblage of individual vocal units. Playback experiments are needed to confirm whether recipients relate these acoustic differences to different contexts. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


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