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J Acoust Soc Am. 1997 May;101(5 Pt 1):2951-63.

The acoustic features of vowel-like grunt calls in chacma baboons (Papio cyncephalus ursinus): implications for production processes and functions.

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Department of Psychology, Reed College, Portland, Oregon 97202, USA.


The acoustic features of 216 baboon grunts were investigated through analysis of field-recorded calls produced by identified females in known contexts. Analyses addressed two distinct questions: whether the acoustic features of these tonal sounds could be characterized using a source-filter approach and whether the acoustic features of grunts varied by individual caller and social context. Converging evidence indicated that grunts were produced through a combination of periodic laryngeal vibration and a stable vocal tract filter. Their acoustic properties closely resembled those of prototypical human vowel sounds. In general, variation in the acoustic features of the grunts was more strongly related to caller identity than to the social contexts of calling. However, two acoustic parameters, second formant frequency and overall spectral tilt, did vary consistently depending on whether the caller was interacting with an infant or participating in a group move. Nonetheless, in accordance with the general view that identity cueing is a compelling function in animal communication, it can be concluded that much of the observed variability in grunt acoustics is likely to be related to this aspect of signaling. Further, cues related to vocal tract filtering appear particularly likely to play an important role in identifying individual calling animals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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