International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 121–144

Vox alouattinae: A preliminary survey of the acoustic characteristics of long-distance calls of howling monkeys

  • James Mather Whitehead
Important Announcement

DOI: 10.1007/BF02700156

Cite this article as:
Whitehead, J.M. International Journal of Primatology (1995) 16: 121. doi:10.1007/BF02700156


This survey of the acoustic characteristics of howling monkey loud calls, covering six of the seven members of the genus Alouattaand presenting audiospectrograms of roars from two species for the first time, suggests that the genus consists of at least two groups: a monotypic palliatagroup, including all subspecies, and a non-palliatagroup, including belzebul, caraya, fusca, pigra,and seniculus.The non-palliatagroup vocalizes continuously for sustained periods of time;their loud calls exhibit a wide bandwidth relative to the calls of the palliatagroup, with emphasized frequencies generally in the range 300- 2000 Hz. The palliatagroup does not vocalize continuously, their vocal bouts being significantly shorter than those of the non-palliataforms. The emphasized frequencies are normally restricted to 300- 1000 Hz, with little acoustic energy in higher frequencies. This bipartite classification places pigrawithin the non-palliatagroup father than with parapatric palliata,which may have important phylogenetic implications. Further, the classification suggests two modes of employing the highly derived howler vocal tract to produce loud calls within the portion of the ambient noise spectrum favorable to long- distance transmission of sound. Finally, I discuss the constraints placed by environmental acoustics on strategies for long- distance communication, hypothesized modes of vocal production, and the use of acoustic studies for phylogenetic reconstruction. Each discussion suggests projects, some already under way, that could elucidate the determinants of variations in communicative patterns within specific social and physical environments.

Key words

vocalizations howlers phylogeny environmental acoustics mechanisms of vocal production 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Mather Whitehead
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Advanced Study of the Communication ProcessesUniversity of FloridaGainesville

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