Referential labelling in Diana monkeys

K Zuberbuhler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animal semantic communication has received considerable theoretical and empirical attention because of its relevance to human language; Advances have been made by studies of alarm-call behaviour in nonhumans. In monkeys, for example, there is evidence that recipients have a fairly sophisticated understanding of a call's meaning; that is, the predator type usually associated with a certain alarm call. Little is known, however, about the mental mechanisms that drive call production in nonhuman primates. In some nonprimate species, it has been found that signallers do not respond to a predator's physical features put instead seem to respond to its relative threat or direction of attack. In these species, therefore, alarm calls do not denote different predator categories but,simply reflect different types or levels of danger. Because different predator categories;typically impose-different types and degrees of threat it is entirely possible that nonhuman primates also respond to threat rather than a predator's category. This study examined how wild Diana monkeys, Cercopithecus diana, of the Tai forest, Ivory Coast, label predation events. By altering playback stimuli and the position of a concealed speaker, I investigated whether Diana monkeys respond with acoustically different alarm calls depending on a predator's (1) distance (close versus far), (2) elevation (above versus below), or (3) category (eagle versus leopard). Analysis of male and female alarm-call behaviour showed that Diana monkeys consistently responded to predator category regardless of immediate threat or direction of attack. Data further suggested that, in addition to predator category, monkeys' alarm calls might also convey information about the predator's distance. (C) 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-927
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume59
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2000

Keywords

  • PRIMATE
  • PREDATOR
  • RED COLOBUS
  • CALIFORNIA GROUND-SQUIRRELS
  • ALARM CALLS
  • TAI-NATIONAL-PARK
  • PANTHERA-PARDUS
  • ASSOCIATIONS
  • VOCALIZATIONS
  • IVORY-COAST

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