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Am J Primatol. 2004 Nov;64(3):277-91.

Nonlinear acoustics in pant hoots of common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): frequency jumps, subharmonics, biphonation, and deterministic chaos.

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Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.


The pant hoot calls produced by common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are multi-call vocalizations that have figured prominently in investigations of acoustic communication in this species. Although pant hoots are predominantly harmonically structured, they can exhibit an acoustic complexity that has recently been linked to nonlinearity in the vocal-fold dynamics underlying typical mammalian sound production. We examined the occurrence of these sorts of nonlinear phenomena in pant hoot vocalizations, contrasting quieter and lower-pitched "introduction" components with loud and high-pitched "climax" calls in the same bouts. Spectrographic evidence revealed four kinds of nonlinear phenomena, including discrete frequency jumps, subharmonics, biphonation, and deterministic chaos. While these events were virtually never observed during the introduction, they occurred in more than half of the climax calls. Biphonation was by far the most common phenomenon, followed by subharmonics, chaos, and frequency jumps. Individual callers varied in the degree to which their climax calls exhibited nonlinear phenomena, but were consistent in showing more biphonation than other forms. These outcomes show that nonlinear phenomena are routinely present in chimpanzee pant hoots, and help lay the foundation for investigating the function of such events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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