International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 503-524

First online:

Loud calls of male Nilgiri langurs (Presbytis johnii): Age-, individual-, and population-specific differences

  • G. HohmannAffiliated withIndian Institute of ScienceMax Planck Institute for Human Ethology
  • , L. VoglAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Psychiatry

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Adult male Nilgiri langurs (Presbytis johnii) utter loud call bouts consisting of one or more phrases. Phrases are made up of several units showing similar or different structural features. The units involved differ with respect to not only their physical structure but also their overall utilization: three vocal patterns are uttered exclusively by mature males living in bisexual groups or all-male bands and, in addition to being part of loud call bouts, are given during encounters with terrestrial predators; two vocal patterns are uttered by males and females, again not just as constituents of loud calls; and one vocal pattern is given exclusively by mature males living in bisexual groups. Within a given bout, phrases differ not only with respect to their composition but also in their temporal organization. In addition to the acoustic components, loud calls are regularly accompanied by stereotyped motoric displays. The motoric and acoustic components of loud call displays appear independently of each other and at different times during ontogeny. The development of the display is characterized by combination of units with different structural features and synchronization of vocal and motoric components. Although more evidence is needed, our observations suggest that the development of loud call displays coincides with the aquisitation of social maturation and competence and requires not only social experience but also a certain amount of motoric training. In spite of the high degree of ritualization, loud call displays are not completely fixed in form, but instead are open to individual- and population-specific variation.

Key words

Nilgiri langur Presbytis johnii male loud calls ontogenetic development individual and population specificity