, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 359-384

Vocal repertoire of the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), its analysis and significance

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Two hundred and fifty vocalizations of the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) were selected for spectrographic analysis from a total of 200 hrs. of tape recordings. The vocalizations were classified into six groups according to their physical characteristics. Both intra and intergroup variability of calls was observed. Calls of similar shape were found to have similar functions. Thus each group of calls could be characterized by a functional designation. The functional significance of calls was determined by qualitative and quantitative observations. Four methods were employed: 1. stereotyped vocalizations were elicited by visual stimuli; 2. motor and vocal reactions were evoked through adequate vocal signals; 3. vocalizations were observed when external conditions were held constant and internal factors were permitted to vary; 4. vocal events were related to the total social situation. By these methods the complexity as well as the specificity of the vocal communication system is demonstrated and its evolutionary significance is discussed.