Individuality in the vocalizations of infant and adult coppery titi monkeys ( Plecturocebus cupreus )

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2020
Authors:Lau, Clink, Bales
Keywords:discriminant function analysis, pair bonding, vocal duetting, vocalization individuality

As social animals, many primates use acoustic communication to maintain relationships. Vocal individuality has been documented in a diverse range of primate species and call types, many of which have presumably different functions. Auditory recognition of one's neighbors may confer a selective advantage if identifying conspecifics decreases the need to participate in costly territorial behaviors. Alternatively, vocal individuality may be nonadaptive and the result of a unique combination of genetics and environment. Pair‐bonded primates, in particular, often participate in coordinated vocal duets that can be heard over long distances by neighboring conspecifics. In contrast to adult calls, infant vocalizations are short‐range and used for intragroup communication. Here, we provide two separate but complementary analyses of vocal individuality in distinct call types of coppery titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus) to test whether individuality occurs in call types from animals of different age classes with presumably different functions. We analyzed 600 trill vocalizations from 30 infants and 169 pulse‐chirp duet vocalizations from 30 adult titi monkeys. We predicted that duet contributions would exhibit a higher degree of individuality than infant trills, given their assumed function for long‐distance, intergroup communication. We estimated 7 features from infant trills and 16 features from spectrograms of adult pulse‐chirps, then used discriminant function analysis with leave‐one‐out cross‐validation to classify individuals. We correctly classified infants with 48% accuracy and adults with 83% accuracy. To further investigate variance in call features, we used a multivariate variance components model to estimate variance partitioning in features across two levels: within‐ and between‐individuals. Between‐individual variance was the most important source of variance for all features in adults, and three of four features in infants. We show that pulse‐chirps of adult titi monkey duets are individually distinct, and infant trills are less individually distinct, which may be due to the different functions of the vocalizations.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith