Predator-specific alarm calls in Campbell's monkeys, Cercopithecus campbelli
One of the most prominent behavioural features of many forest primates are the loud calls given by the adult males. Early observational studies repeatedly postulated that these calls function in intragroup spacing or intergroup avoidance. More recent field experiments with Diana monkeys (Cercopithecus diana) of Taï Forest, Ivory Coast, have clearly shown that loud male calls function as predator alarm calls because calls reliably (1) label different predator classes and (2) convey semantic information about the predator type present. Here, I test the alarm call hypothesis another primate, the Campbell's monkey (C. campbelli). Like Diana monkeys, male Campbell's monkeys produce conspicuous loud calls to crowned hawk eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) and leopards (Panthera pardus), two of their main predators. Playback experiments showed that monkeys responded to the predator category represented by the different playback stimuli, regardless of whether they consisted of (1) vocalisations of the actual predators (crowned hawk eagle shrieks or leopard growls), (2) alarm calls to crowned hawk eagles or leopards given by other male Campbell's monkeys or (3) alarm calls to crowned hawk eagles or leopards given by sympatric male Diana monkeys. These experiments provide further evidence that non-human primates have evolved the cognitive capacity to produce and respond to referential labels for external events.
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