Geographical Variation in Duet Songs of Sulawesi Tarsiers: Evidence for New Cryptic Species in South and Southeast Sulawesi
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- Burton, J.A. & Nietsch, A. Int J Primatol (2010) 31: 1123. doi:10.1007/s10764-010-9449-8
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Geographic populations of Sulawesi tarsiers differ conspicuously in the acoustic structure of the loud duet calls produced by mated pairs. There is evidence that the differences in call features relate to species differentiation. Duet calls can thus be used as a tool to identify cryptic species and for their monitoring in the field. We recorded duets from various geographically isolated populations of Tarsius tarsier in south and southeast Sulawesi to survey the species identity of the tarsiers in these regions. We compared their calls with the duet calls of the Manado tarsier (= Tarsius spectrum), Tarsius dianae, and the Togian Island tarsier. In addition, we recorded and analyzed the duet call of the tarsier from Peleng Island, Tarsius pelengensis. Qualitative characteristics of duet songs of both sexes, analysis of frequency and temporal parameters, and multivariate statistics show 4 distinct vocal forms that predict the existence of 4 new species. These are found on Selayar Island, on the south mainland (Bantimurung), on the southeast mainland (Puwato), and on the Islands of Kabaena and Buton. Our analysis of the call of the Peleng tarsier revealed striking similarities with the call of Tarsius dianae. Further morphological analyses are needed to support the proposed new species in south and southeast Sulawesi and to clarify the taxonomic affinity between the central Sulawesi tarsier species Tarsius pelengensis and T. dianae.