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Animal Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 349–358 | Cite as

Social mobbing calls in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus): effects of experience and associated cortisol levels

  • Elena Clara
  • Luca Tommasi
  • Lesley J. Rogers
Original Paper

Abstract

We compared the mobbing response to model snakes of two groups of captive-born common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) differing in genetic relatedness, age and past experience. Mobbing vocalisations (tsik calls), other mobbing behaviour and attention to the stimulus were recorded for 2 min. intervals pre-exposure, during exposure to various stimuli and post-exposure. Marmosets in one group were vocally reactive to all stimuli, although more so to one particular stimulus resembling rearing snakes and modified images of it, whereas the marmosets in a younger and genetically unrelated group attended to the stimuli but made very few mobbing calls. The parent stock of the first group had suffered stress in early life and had developed a phobic response to a specific stimulus, which they had transmitted to their offspring. A third group, matching the older group in age range but genetically unrelated, was also found to be unresponsive to the stimulus that elicited the strongest response in the first group. Cortisol levels in samples of hair were assayed and a significant negative correlation was found between the number of tsik calls made during presentation of the stimuli and the cortisol level, showing that mobbing behaviour/behavioural reactivity is associated with low levels of physiological stress.

Keywords

Common marmoset Vocalisations Mobbing snakes Cultural transmission Age Cortisol in hair 

Notes

Acknowledgments

E.C. is grateful for funding from the Australian Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) for an Endeavour Scholarship to visit the Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour at UNE. The research costs were funded, in part, by an Australian Research Council grant to L.J.R.. We are grateful to Dr. S. Cairns and Dr. R. Freire for advice on statistical procedures, and to Dr. J. McFarland and Dr. N.J. Branson for assistance in assaying for cortisol. E.C. would like to thank Giuseppe Clara for technical advice.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Clara
    • 1
    • 4
  • Luca Tommasi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lesley J. Rogers
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Neuroscience and Animal BehaviourUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of ChietiChietiItaly
  3. 3.Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition ResearchAltenbergAustria
  4. 4.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly

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