Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 361–373 | Cite as

Dawn chorusing in guereza colobus monkeys

Original Paper


Dawn chorusing by guereza black-and-white colobus monkeys is one of the most impressive spectacles of African rainforests. This vocal behaviour is highly contagious, travelling from one neighbouring group to the next, until a wide forest area is covered by calling monkeys. Chorusing usually occurs up to 2 h before dawn, sometimes more than once, unless the preceding night was cold and wet. We conducted a series of playback experiments, which showed that guerezas’ chorusing was difficult to elicit experimentally, suggesting that callers took several variables into account before responding to other monkeys’ predawn calls. Acoustic analyses showed that morning calls were individually distinct, but we found no evidence that callers took individual identity into account in their decision to participate in chorusing. The only way to reliably elicit chorusing in our study area was to broadcast recordings of morning choruses for longer than 30 s and at a time when a chorus simultaneously emerged in a distant part of the forest.


Colobus guereza Dawn chorus Habitat effects Male–male competition Playback experiment 



We thank the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland for providing core funding for the Budongo Conservation Field Station. We are grateful to Gophine Erickson for assistance in the field. This research was funded by the European Commission (FP6 ‘what it means to be human’), the Leverhulme Trust, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Schure Beijerinck Poppink Fonds and Dobberke Stichting from the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie vanWetenschappen (KNAW). C. Crockford, C. Hobaiter, S. Pika, E. Bowman, N. Mathevon, I. Charrier and three anonymous reviewers contributed with valuable discussions and comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Ethical standards

Research clearance allowing the authors to conduct experiments in Uganda was granted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the President’s Office and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (NS263). All conducted experiments complied with the current laws of Uganda.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

265_2011_1282_MOESM1_ESM.mp3 (1.6 mb)
ESM 1 (MP3 1,593 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of St AndrewsScotlandUK
  2. 2.Budongo Conservation Field StationMasindiUganda
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of York, YorkEnglandUK

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