International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 73–94 | Cite as

Vocal Diversity and Taxonomy of Nomascus in Central Vietnam and Southern Laos

  • Julia C. RuppellEmail author


Previous researchers suggested that gibbon song repertoire is genetically determined and song characteristics are useful for assessing systematic relationships. The southern white-cheeked crested gibbon is regarded as either a subspecies of Nomascus leucogenys or its own species (Nomascus siki). I studied vocal diversity among different wild populations of Nomascus in central Vietnam and southern Laos to assess their taxonomic relationships and to examine whether their vocal patterns correspond to forms previously described for Nomascus siki. I examined the songs of 7 Nomascus populations in Vietnam and Laos. I analyzed 192 song bouts from different gibbon groups including 173 phrases of 42 females and 192 phrases of 42 males. Linear discriminant analysis, classification trees, and multidimensional scaling revealed marked separation of groups in the northern and southern populations. Within the 2 geographic populations, there is little variability and the vocal characteristics exhibited no apparent cline. I conclude that the northern and southern geographic populations may represent 2 distinct taxa. I postulate that a taxonal boundary such as large rivers existing between southern Quang Binh province and northern Thua-Thien Hue province in Vietnam and northern Phou Xang He NBCA and southern Dong Phou Vieng NBCA in Laos has limited gene flow between the populations. Differing topographic features could also serve as a selective force for improved sound transmission in a highly territorial species, driving the divergence between the 2 populations.


gibbons Nomascus songs taxonomy vocal diversity 



I thank Dr. Natalie Vasey for her support, consideration, and careful review of proposals and manuscripts pertaining to this study. I think Dr. Thomas Geissmann for not only giving me the idea for this study but also for support, suggestions, reflection, and careful review of proposals and manuscripts pertaining to this study. I thank Dr. Marc Feldesman for contributing to discussions of statistical analyses from the first inklings of this project to the completion of this manuscript. I thank Dr. Yangdong Pan for statistical advice on this manuscript. I thank Dr. Michael Murphy for valuable comments on my master’s thesis manuscript. Flora and Fauna International (FFI) Hanoi helped me to obtain a working visa in Vietnam and assisted in obtaining provincial permits for which I am extremely grateful. Specifically I thank Paul Insua-Cao and Trinh Thanh Long of FFI for their time and care assisting me to make this project possible. I thank my research assistant and translator Nguyen Ngoc Qunyh for assisting with the field aspects of the project. I thank the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript. This study was funded by Primate Conservation Incorporated and International Primate Protection League.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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