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Individual voice recognition and an auditory map of neighbours in free-ranging black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra)

Abstract : Recognizing individuals auditorily is of primal importance in maintaining socio-spatial cohesion among conspecifics within a social group as well as for regulating space use among neighbours, particularly for species dwelling in forests where visual communication is constrained. This study evaluates the capacity of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) in the Palenque National Park, Mexico, to recognize the voices of individual neighbours, using a violation-of-expectation paradigm based on the spatial congruence of voices. First, we assessed intra- vs inter-individual acoustic variations by comparing the acoustic structures of the loud calls of six adult males from three different social groups. Although the acoustic structures of barks were more individually discriminative than those of roars, both loud call types presented significant individual variations. Second, playbacks of sequences composed of barks and roars were studied in order to assess the auditory recognition capacity of six neighbouring groups. Two test situations were presented to each study group: the spatial location of the speaker was either congruent (in the appropriate neighbouring territory) or incongruent (in a territory on the opposite side) with the voice broadcast. Monkeys reacted significantly more (e.g. faster approach, more vocal responses) in incongruent situations. Our data suggest that black howler monkeys display individual acoustic variations and are capable of recognizing the voices of non-group members. Our experimental paradigm is an easily replicable way to investigate inter-group voice recognition in animals and to test the extent of socio-spatial cognitive abilities.
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https://hal-univ-rennes1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01130040
Contributor : Laurent Jonchère <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 10:04:49 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 4:08:03 PM

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Margarita Briseño Jaramillo, Alejandro Estrada, Alban Lemasson. Individual voice recognition and an auditory map of neighbours in free-ranging black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Springer Verlag, 2015, 69 (1), pp.13-25. ⟨10.1007/s00265-014-1813-9⟩. ⟨hal-01130040⟩

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