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J Acoust Soc Am. 1998 Jan;103(1):602-14.

The role of vocal tract filtering in identity cueing in rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) vocalizations.

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Department of Anthropology, University of California at Davis 95616, USA.


The importance of individual identity and kinship has been demonstrated in the social behavior of many nonhuman primates, with some evidence suggesting that individually distinctive acoustic features are present in their vocalizations as well. In order to systematically test whether acoustic cues to identity are reliably present across the vocal repertoire of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), we examined coos, grunts, and noisy screams produced by adult females of two free-ranging groups. First, acoustic analyses were used to characterize spectral patterning, the fundamental frequency, and temporal characteristics of these three distinct call types. Vocalizations were then classified by caller identity, based on discriminant function analyses. Results showed that coos (rich, harmonically structured sounds) were markedly more distinctive by caller than were either grunts or noisy screams, and that spectral-patterning measures related to vocal tract filtering effects were the most reliable markers of individual identity. Grunts (pulsed, noisy calls) were classified at lower, but above-chance rates and spectral patterning cues were again critical in this sorting. Noisy screams (continuous, broadband noise bursts that could include a high-frequency, periodic component) could not be reliably sorted by caller. Playback experiments conducted with the screams showed no response differences when listening animals heard vocalizations produced by kin or nonkin individuals. This result was strikingly different from the corresponding outcome of a previous test with coo calls, but consistent with the acoustic analysis. Implications of these findings for vocal production mechanisms in nonhuman primates and previous studies of rhesus monkey vocalizations are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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