International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 257–270 | Cite as

Vocal Response of Captive-reared Saguinus oedipus During Mobbing



Mobbing is an important component of antipredator behavior for animals from many taxa. Callitrichids are small-bodied primates that mob multiple types of predators. Though there have been several observations of callitrichids mobbing predators in the wild, their anecdotal nature provides only rough descriptions of behavior and vocalizations. Researchers could neither spectrographically identify nor quantify vocalizations owing to the limitations of observing predation in the field. We examined in detail the mobbing response of 1 callitrichid species, the cotton-top tamarin, in captivity. We recorded vocalizations for quantitative analysis and observed behavior qualitatively. We report 3 new vocalizations that had not been described in the original repertoire for the cotton-top tamarin. Analysis of the time course of a mobbing session yielded a pattern in which the highest intensity mobbing vocalizations decreased over the session even though lower intensity vocalizing continued, which may reflect a shifting strategy from mobbing to vigilance. The rate of calling during mobbing sessions differed from the rate of calling during control sessions. We discuss the vocalizations in relation to 2 hypotheses of form and function of antipredator calls. The newly described mobbing vocalizations may have an important impact on the study of mobbing because they represent a class of vocalizations that researchers have largely ignored in studies of callitrichids, thus raising new issues concerning past and future research on antipredator behavior in the family.


antipredator vocalizations cotton-top tamarin mobbing vocal repertoire 


  1. Barros, M., Boere, V., Mello, E. L. Jr., & Tomaz, C. (2002). Reactions to potential predators in captive-born marmosets (Callithrix penicillata). International Journal of Primatology, 23, 443–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bartecki, U., & Heymann, E. W. (1987). Field observations of snake-mobbing in a group of saddle-back tamarins, Saguinus fuscicollis nigrifrons. Folia Primatologica, 48, 199–202.Google Scholar
  3. Buchanan-Smith, H. M. (1990). Polyspecific association of two tamarin species, Saguinus labiatus and Saguinus fuscicollis, in Bolivia. American Journal of Primatology, 22, 205214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Caine, N. G. (1984). Visual scanning by tamarins: A description of the behavior and tests of two derived hypotheses. Folia Primatologica, 43, 59–67.Google Scholar
  5. Caine, N. G. (1998). Cutting costs in response to predatory threat by Geoffroy’s marmoset (Callithrix geoffroyi). American Journal of Primatology, 46, 187–196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caine, N. G., & Marra, S. L. (1988). Vigilance and social organization in two species of primates. Animal Behaviour, 36, 897–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Castro, M. I. (1990). A comparative study of the anti-predator behavior in the three species of lion tamarins (Leontopithecus) in captivity. Master’s thesis, University of Maryland, College Park.Google Scholar
  8. Cleveland, J., & Snowdon, C. T. (1982). The complex vocal repertoire of the adult cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus oedipus). Zeit. Tierpsychol, 58, 231–270.Google Scholar
  9. Coates, A., & Poole, T. B. (1983). The behavior of the callitrichid monkey, Saguinus labiatus labiatus, in the laboratory. International Journal of Primatology, 4, 339–371.Google Scholar
  10. Corrêa, H. K. M., & Coutinho, P. E. G. (1997). Fatal attack of a pit viper, Bothrops jararaca, on an infant buffy-tufted ear marmoset (Callithrix aurita). Primates, 38, 215–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Curio, E. (1978). The adaptive significance of avian mobbing I. Teleonomic hypotheses and predictions. Zeit. Tierpsychol, 48, 175–183.Google Scholar
  12. Epple, G. (1968). Comparative studies on vocalization in marmoset monkeys (Hapalidae). Folia Primatologica, 8, 1–40.Google Scholar
  13. Ferrari, S. F., & Lopes Ferrari, M. A. (1990). Predator avoidance behaviour in the buffy-headed marmoset, Callithrix flaviceps. Primates, 31, 323–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ginther, A. J., Ziegler, T. E., & Snowdon, C. T. (2001). Reproductive biology of captive male cottontop tamarin monkeys as a function of social environment. Animal Behaviour, 61, 65–78.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hankerson, S. J., & Caine, N. G. (2004). Pre-retirement predator encounters alter the morning behavior of captive marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi). American Journal of Primatology, 63, 75–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayes, S. L., & Snowdon, C. T. (1990). Predator recognition in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). American Journal of Primatology, 20, 283–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heymann, E. W. (1987). A field observation of predation on a moustached-tamarin (Saguinus mystax) by an anaconda. International Journal of Primatology, 8, 193–195.Google Scholar
  18. Heymann, E. W. (1990). Reactions of wild tamarins, Saguinus mystax and Saguinus fuscicollis to avian predators. International Journal of Primatology, 11, 327–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Izawa, K. (1978). A field study of the ecology and behavior of the black-mantle tamarin (Saguinus nigricollis). Primates, 19, 241–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marler, P. (1955). Characteristics of some animal calls. Nature, 176, 6–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McLanahan, E. B., & Green, K. M. (1978). The vocal repertoire and an analysis of the contexts of vocalizations in Leontopithecus rosalia. In D. G. Kleiman (Ed.), The biology and conservation of the callitrichidae (pp. 251–269). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Press.Google Scholar
  22. Moody, M. I., & Menzel, E. W., Jr. (1976). Vocalizations and their biological contexts in the tamarin Saguinus fuscicollis. Folia Primatologica, 25, 73–94.Google Scholar
  23. Ostreiher, R. (2003). Is mobbing altruistic or selfish behaviour? Animal Behaviour, 66, 145–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Owings, D. H., & Morton, E. S. (1998). Animal vocal communication: A new approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Passamani, M. (1995). Field observation of a group of Geoffroy’s marmosets mobbing a margay cat. Folia Primatologica, 64, 163–166.Google Scholar
  26. Peres, C. A. (1993). Anti-predation benefits in a mixed-species group of Amazonian tamarins. Folia Primatologica, 61, 61–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rylands, A. B., Schneider, H., Langguth, A., Mittermeier, R. A., Groves, C. P., & Rodriguez-Luna, E. (2000). An assessment of the diversity of New World primates. Neotropical Primates, 8, 61–93.Google Scholar
  28. Shahuano Tello, N., Huck, M., & Heymann, E. W. (2002). Boa constrictor attack and successful group defence in moustached tamarins, Saguinus mystax. Folia Primatologica, 73, 146–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Snowdon, C. T. (1988). A comparative approach to vocal communication. In R. A. Dienstbier, & D. W. Leger (Eds.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1987 (pp. 145–199). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  30. Stafford, B. J., & Ferreira, F. M. (1995). Predation attempts on callitrichids in the Atlantic coastal rain forest of Brazil. Folia Primatologica, 65, 229–233.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations