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Am J Primatol. 2008 Nov;70(11):1055-63. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20597.

Effects of caller activity and habitat visibility on contact call rate of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata).

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Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi, Japan.


A major function of contact calls in nonhuman primates is to maintain spatial cohesion among individuals in a group. The risks of spatial/visual separation from the group are likely to affect auditory contact behavior, in particular by increasing the call rate. We tested whether the risk of separation influences coo call emission by investigating the variation in call rate among behavioral contexts in two wild populations of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). We focused on caller activity and the degree of visibility within the habitat as primary potential factors mediating call rate. We first estimated the habitat visibility of the two research sites at Yakushima Island (YK) and Kinkazan Island (KZ), Japan. The habitat visibility of YK was significantly more restricted than that of KZ. We then compared the call rate of 20 adult and 12 juvenile female macaques between the two wild populations to examine the potential effects of environmental differences. Both populations had a lower call rate during grooming than during feeding and moving, which are behaviors associated to higher interindividual distances. The call rate of YK adult females was significantly greater than that of both juveniles and KZ adult females, independently of activity. The call rate increased as macaques matured in the YK population, but not in the KZ population, suggesting that different developmental processes involved in contact calling of the two populations. Our findings suggest that separation risk influences call rate, and also imply a possibility of social influence that social structure change effects on the call rates.

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