Representational Signaling in Non-Human Primate Vocal Communication

  • Harold Gouzoules
  • Sarah Gouzoules
  • Jennifer Ashley


Knowledge about non-human primate vocal communication has grown substantially in recent years and has resulted in a radically different view of the role vocalizations play in animals’ lives. Some 25 years ago, anthropologist Jane Lancaster summarized the then prevalent view by noting that, “.... field and laboratory workers have emphasized that vocalizations do not carry the major burden of meaning in most social interactions, but function instead either to call visual attention to the signaller or to emphasize or enhance the effect of visual or tactile signals” (Lancaster, 1968). Downplaying the role of vocal communication even further, Lancaster went on to speculate that “a blind monkey would be greatly handicapped in his social interactions whereas a deaf one would probably be able to function almost normally” (Lancaster, 1968, p.442). In general, the communication systems of monkeys and apes were thought to express the emotional or motivational states of the animals (reviewed in Marler, 1985, 1992; Cheney and Seyfarth, 1990a).


Alarm Call Vervet Monkey Playback Experiment Ringtailed Lemur Pigtail Macaque 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Benz, J.J., 1993, Food-elicited vocalizations in golden lion tamarins: design features for representational communication, Anim. Behay. 45: 443–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernstein, I.S., 1971, The influence of introductory techniques on the formation of captive mangabey groups, Primates 12: 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bickerton, D., 1990, “Language and Species,” University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  4. Cheney, D.L., 1987, Interactions and relationships between groups, in: “Primate Societies,” B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker, eds., University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  5. Cheney, D.L. and Seyfarth, R.M., 1982, How vervet monkeys perceive their grunts: field playback experiments, Anim. Behay. 30: 739–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheney, D.L. and Seyfarth, R.M., 1988, Assessment of meaning and the detection of unreliable signals by vervet monkeys, Anim. Behay. 36: 477–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheney, D.L. and Seyfarth, R.M., 1990a, “How Monkeys See the World,” University of Chicago Press. Cheney, D.L. and Seyfarth, R.M., 1990b, The representation of social relations by monkeys, Cognition 37: 167–196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheney, D.L. and Seyfarth, R.M., 1992, Meaning, reference, and intentionality in the natural vocalizations of monkeys, in: “Topics in Primatology, Vol. 1, Human Origins,” T. Nishida, W.C. McGrew, P. Mailer, M. Pickford, and F.B.M. de Waal, eds., University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, A.P. and Wrangham, R.W.. 1993. Acoustic analysis of wild chimpanzee pant hoots: do Kibale forest chimpanzees have an acoustically distinct food arrival pant hoot? Amer. J. Primatol. 31: 99–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dittus, W.P.J., 1984, Toque macaque food calls: semantic communication concerning food distribution in the environment, Anim. Behay. 32: 470–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dittus, W., 1988, An analysis of toque macaque cohesion calls from an ecological perspective, in: “Primate Vocal Communication,” D. Todt, P. Goedeking, and D. Symmes, eds., Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Ehardt, C.L., 1988, Absence of strongly kin-preferential behavior by adult female sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys), Amer. J. phys. Anthropol. 76: 233–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elowson, A.M., Tannenbaum, P.L., and Snowdon, C.T., 1991, Food associated calls correlate with food preferences in cotton-top tamarins, Anim. Behay. 42: 931–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gouzoules, H. and Gouzoules, S., 1989, Design features and developmental modification of pigtail macaque, Macaca nemestrina, agonistic screams, Anim. Behay. 37: 383–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gouzoules, H. and Gouzoules, S., 1990, Matrilineal signatures in the recruitment screams of pigtail macaques, Macaca nemestrina, Behaviour 115: 327–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gouzoules, S., Gouzoules, H., and Marier, P., 1984, Rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) screams: representational signalling in the recruitment of agonistic aid, Anim. Behay. 32: 182–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gouzoules, H., Gouzoules, S., and Marier, P., 1985, External reference and affective signaling in mammalian vocal communication, in: “The Development of Expressive Behavior (Biology-Environment Interactions),” G. Zivin, ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Gouzoules, H., Gouzoules, S., and Marier, P., 1986, Vocal communication: a vehicle for the study of social relationships, in: “The Cayo Santiago Macaques,” R.G. Rawlins and M.J. Kessler, eds., State University of New York Press, Albany, N.Y.Google Scholar
  19. Green, S., 1975, Variation of vocal pattern with social situation in the Japanese monkey (Macaca fuscata): a field study, in: “Primate Behavior, Vol. 4,” L.A. Rosenblum, ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Gust, D.A and Gordon, T.P., 1993, Conflict resolution in sooty mangabeys, Anim. Behay. 46:685–694. Hauser, M.D., 1991, Sources of acoustic variation in rhesus macaque vocalizations, Ethology 89 29–46.Google Scholar
  21. Hauser, M.D., 1993, The evolution of non-human primate vocalizations: effects of phylogeny, body-weight, and social context, Amer. Nat. 142: 528–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hauser, M.D. and Marier, P., 1993a, Food-associated calls in rhesus macaques (Macaca,nulatta): I. Socioecological factors, Behay. Ecol. 4: 194–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hauser, M.D. and Marier, P., 1993b, Food-associated calls in rhesus macaques (Macaca,nulatta): II. Costs and benefits of call production and suppression, Behay. Ecol. 4: 206–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hauser, M.D. and Wrangham, R.W., 1987, Manipulation of food calls in captive chimpanzees: a preliminary report, Folio Primatol. 48: 207–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hauser, M.D., Teixidor, P., Field, L., and Flaherty, R., 1993, Food-elicited calls in chimpanzees: effects of food quantity and divisibility, Anim. Behar. 45: 817–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kaplan, J., 1977, Patterns of fight interference in free-ranging rhesus monkeys. Amer. J. phys. Anthropol. 47: 279–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kaplan, J.R,. 1978, Fight interference and altruism in rhesus monkeys, Amer. J. phys. Anthropol. 49: 241–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kosko, B., 1993, “Fuzzy Thinking: the New Science of Fuzzy Logic,” Hyperion, New York.Google Scholar
  29. Lakoff, G., 1987, “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind,” University of Chicago Press, Chicago.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lancaster, J., 1968, Primate communications and the emergence of human language, in: “Primates,” P.C. Jay, ed., Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Lancaster, J.B., 1975, “Primate Behavior and the Emergence of Human Culture,” Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Lloyd, L.B., 1989, “Simple Minds,” M. I. T. Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  33. Macedonia, J.M., 1990, What is communicated in the antipredator calls of lemurs: evidence from playback experiments with ringtailed and ruffed lemurs, Ethology 86: 177–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Macedonia, J.M. and Evans, C.S., 1993, Variation among mammalian alarm call systems and the problem of meaning in animal signals, Ethology 93: 177–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Macedonia, J.M. and Yount, P.L., 1991, Auditory assessment of avian predator threat in semi-captive ringtailed lemurs (Lemur cafta), Primates 32: 169–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mandler, J.M., 1983, Representation, in: “Handbook of Child Psychology: Vol. 3. Cognitive Development,” J.H. Flavell and E.M. Markman, eds., Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  37. Marier, P., 1985, Representational vocal signals of primates, Fortschr. Zool. 31: 211–221.Google Scholar
  38. Marier, P., 1992, Functions of arousal and emotion in primate communication: a semiotic approach, in: “Topics in Primatology, Vol. 1, Human Origins,” T. Nishida, W.C. McGrew. P. Marier, M. Pickford, and F.B.M. de Waal, eds., University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  39. Marier, P. and Tenaza, R., 1977, Signaling behavior of apes with special reference to vocalization, in: “How Animals Communicate,” T. Sebcok, ed., Indiana University Press, Bloomington.Google Scholar
  40. Marier, P., Evans, C.S., and Hauser, M.D., 1992, Animal signals: motivational, referential, or both? in: “Nonverbal Communication: Comparative and Developmental Approaches,” H. Papousek, U. Jürgens, and M. Papousek, eds.. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  41. Masataka, N., 1983, Categorical responses to natural and synthesized alarm calls in Goeldi’s monkeys (Callimico goeldii), Primates 24: 40–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Masataka, N., 1988, Temporal and sequelae analysis of food calling behavior in Japanese macaques, Research Reports of the Arashiyama West and East Groups of Japanese Monkeys: 51–55.Google Scholar
  43. Massaro, D.W., 1987, Categorical partition: a fuzzy-logical model of categorization behavior, in: “Categorical Perception,” S. Hamad, ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  44. McCawley, J.D., 1981, “Everything That Linguists Have Always Wanted to Know about Logic,” University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  45. Miller, G.A. and Johnson-Laird, P.N.. 1976, “Language and Perception,” Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  46. Morton, E.S., 1977, On the occurrence and significance of motivation-structural rules in some bird and mammal sounds, Amer. Nat. 111: 855–869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Newell, A., 1990, “Unified Theories of Cognition,” Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  48. Ogden, C.K. and Richards. I.A., 1923, “The Meaning of Meaning,” Routledge and Kegan Paul, London. Owren, M.J., 1990, Acoustic classification of alarm calls by vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) and humans (Homo sapiens): I. Natural calls, J. Comp. Psycho!. 104: 20–28.Google Scholar
  49. Pearce, J.M., 1987, “Introduction to Animal Cognition.” Erlbaum Associates, Hove and London.Google Scholar
  50. Pereira, M.E. and Macedonia. J.M., 1991, Response urgency does not determine antipredator call selection by ringtailed lemurs, Anim. Behar. 41: 543–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Premack, D., 1975, On the origins of language, in: “Handbook of Psychobiology,” M.S. Gazzaniga and C.B. Blackemore, eds., Academic Press. New York.Google Scholar
  52. Rosch, E., Mervis, C.B., Gray, W.D., Johnson, D.M., and Boves-Braem, P., 1976, Basic objects in natural categories, Cogn. Psycho!. 8: 382–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rowell, T.E., 1962, Agonistic noises of the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond. 8: 91–96.Google Scholar
  54. Rowell, T.E. and Hinde, R.A., 1962, Vocal communication by the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 138: 279–294.Google Scholar
  55. Santee, D.P., 1992, “Aspects of the Vocal Communication of Sooty Mangabeys (Cercocebus atys): Agonistic Screams and ‘Whoopgobbles’,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Emory University, Atlanta.Google Scholar
  56. Scherer, K.R., 1988, On the symbolic functions of vocal affect expression, J. Lang. Soc. Psycho!. 7: 79–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Seyfarth, R.M. and Cheney, D.L., 1990, The assessment by vervet monkeys of their own and another species’ alarm calls, Anim. Behm’. 40: 754–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Seyfarth, RM., Cheney, D.L., and Marier, P., 1980, Vervet monkey alarm calls: semantic communication in a free-ranging primate, Anim. Behmv. 28: 1070–1094.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith, W.J., 1981, Referents of animal communication, Anim. Behar. 29: 1273–1275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Smith, W.J., 1990, Animal communication and the study of cognition. in: “Cognitive Ethology: the Minds of Other Animals (essays in honor of Donald R. Griffin),” C.A. Ristau, ed., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, N.J.Google Scholar
  61. Struhsaker, T.T., 1967, Auditory communication among vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). in: “Social Communication among Primates,” S.A. Altmann, ed., University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  62. Tenaza, R. and Tilson, R., 1977, Evolution of long-distance alarm-calls in Kloss’gibbon, Nature 268: 233–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tiles, J.E., 1987, Meaning. in: “The Oxford Companion to the Mind,” R.L. Gregory, ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  64. Todt, D., 1988, Serial calling as a mediator of interaction processes: crying in primates. in: “Primate Vocal Communication,” D. Todt, P. Goedeking, and D. Symmes, eds., Springer-Verlag, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Walters, J.R. and Seyfarth, R.M., 1987, Conflict and cooperation, in: “Primate Societies,” B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham and T.T. Struhsaker, eds., University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  66. Wrangham, R.W., 1977, Feeding behaviour of chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, in: “Primate Ecology,” T.H. Clutton-Brock, ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  67. Zadeh, L.A., 1992, Knowledge representation in fuzzy logic, in: “An Introduction to Fuzzy Logic Applications in Intelligent Systems, R.R. Yager and L.A. Zadeh, eds., Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, Ma.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold Gouzoules
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah Gouzoules
    • 2
  • Jennifer Ashley
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Yerkes Regional Primate Research CenterEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations