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Call rates of mothers change with maternal experience and with infant characteristics in free-ranging gray-cheeked mangabeys

Abstract : Studies have shown that becoming a mother triggers important social changes within females, according to both social experience and infant characteristics, showing different maternal concerns. But how this impacts call usage has been far less studied. Based on 6 months of observations of five free-ranging groups of gray-cheeked mangabeys, we investigated variations in the production of three call types (contact, excitement, and alarm calls) in 29 females of different ages, dominance ranks, and infant rearing experiences: 15 females with infants of different ages and sexes, and 14 females without infants. We found that in females with infants—both maternal and infant characteristics influenced call production in a call type-dependent way. Females produced contact calls at a higher rate during the first month of infant age and after weaning when infants start to move away. Mothers of daughters produced more contact calls than mothers of sons. More excitement calls were recorded for first-time and young mothers and for females with young infants, while alarm call rates were not influenced by any of these factors. Increased mother–infant spatial separation enhanced only contact and excitement call rates. Finally, we found that females with infants vocalized much more than females without infants. Our results contribute to the current debate about the social factors responsible for the flexibility of call usage in nonhuman primates and open new lines for research on mothering behavior in forest-dwelling species.
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Malgorzata E. Arlet, Linda-Liisa Veromann, Raivo Mänd, Alban Lemasson. Call rates of mothers change with maternal experience and with infant characteristics in free-ranging gray-cheeked mangabeys. American Journal of Primatology, Wiley, 2016, 78 (9), pp.983-991. ⟨10.1002/ajp.22568⟩. ⟨hal-01342444⟩



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