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Function of Loud Calls in Howler Monkeys

Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)

Abstract

Beyond the unique sound of howler monkey vocalizations, their vigorous loud calling displays are perplexing given the otherwise sedentary lifestyle of these primates. Here we provide potential explanations for this energetic investment by reviewing all available functional studies conducted to date. We highlight the variation among and even within species when we explore whether male loud calls are used in group cohesion, predator avoidance, attraction of females, or competition with other males or other groups over resources. In the competition scenario, we examine strategies of avoidance versus direct competition and whether contests are focused on defense of space, food, mates, or infants. We suggest that much of the debate surrounding the function of loud calls stems from methodological differences among researchers and from the varied levels of analyses used, although we also demonstrate that studies of form and function can be intertwined. We emphasize the need to examine different call types separately and discuss the role of howling in intragroup male relationships. Finally, we address the understudied role of female loud calling and the potential use of hybrid populations to examine the evolution of species-typical loud calls. We conclude with some practical hints for designing field tests to uncover functional significance.

Keywords

  • Bark
  • Mate defense
  • Infanticide
  • Resource defense
  • Resource holding potential
  • Roar

Resumen

Más allá del sonido único de las vocalizaciones de los monos aulladores, estos vigorosos despliegues nos dejan perplejos, dado el sedentario estilo de vida de estos primates. En este capítulo damos explicaciones potenciales a esta inversión de energía, a través de una revisión de los estudios funcionales llevados a cabo hasta la fecha. Remarcamos la variación entre y dentro de las especies cuando exploramos si los aullidos de los machos son utilizados en la cohesión de grupo, evasión de predadores, atracción de hembras o competencia. Sobre este último escenario, examinamos las estrategias de evasión versus la competencia directa y exploramos si la competencia se focaliza en la defensa del espacio, la comida, las parejas o los infantes. Sugerimos que gran parte del debate sobre la función de las vocalizaciones de larga distancia radica en diferencias metodológicas entre investigadores, así como en la variedad de niveles de análisis utilizados, aunque también demostramos que los estudios de forma y función pueden estar entrelazados. Enfatizamos la necesidad de examinar diferentes tipos de llamados separadamente y discutimos el papel de los aullidos en las relaciones intragrupales entre machos. Finalmente, abarcamos el escasamente estudiado papel de las vocalizaciones de larga distancia emitidas por las hembras y la potencial utilización de poblaciones de híbridos para examinar la evolución de las vocalizaciones de larga distancia, típicos de cada especie. Concluimos con consejos prácticos para el diseño de estudios en el campo que permitan descubrir significados funcionales.

Keywords

  • Bark
  • Mate defense
  • Infanticide
  • Resource defense
  • Resource holding potential
  • Roar

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Fig. 14.1
Fig. 14.2

Abbreviations

%:

Percent

>:

Greater than

A.:

Alouatta

e.g.:

For example

i.e.:

In other words

kHz:

Kilohertz

MA:

Massachusetts

Min:

Minutes

NY:

New York

P.:

Pan

pers. obs.:

Personal observation

RHP:

Resource holding potential

TFT:

Tit-for-Tat

UK:

United Kingdom

unpubl. data:

Unpublished data

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Acknowledgments

The coauthors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and to the editors for constructive comments and for the opportunity to be involved in this book. RGTC is grateful to EMBRAPA, Richard Byrne, Marcelo Oliveira Maciel, Emiko Kawakami de Resende, José Anibal Comastri Filho, Gentil Cavalcanti, Marcos Tadeu, Sandra Santos, CAPES (studentship #1373/99 4), and St. Leonard’s College at University of St. Andrews (for Russell Trust Award). IH wishes to thank Mario Di Bitetti, Nacho Areta, Ilaria Agostini, and Daphne Colcombet, as well as The National Research Council from Argentina (CONICET) for funding. DMK is indebted to University of Minnesota (UMN), The Ohio State University (OSU), and NSF (grants # BCS-0962807 and 0962755) for funding. She is also grateful to UMN colleagues, advisors, and field assistants; L Cortes-Ortiz, T Bergman, PAD Dias, D Canales Espinosa, A Rangel-Negrin, C Rodriguez Muldonado, A Gomez Martinez, and A Coyohua; OSU colleagues, administrators, and students; and, most importantly, Jim, Dylan, and Nash Nicholson. DAGO wishes to thank César Ades (in memoriam), Zelinda Hirano, Júlio César de Souza Jr., Fernando Déscio, Simone Porfírio, Marcelo Marcelino, Isabel Coelho, Israel Quintani, and Esmeralda da Silva, for funding from CNPq, CAPES, FAPESP, and FINEP, as well as the following institutions: University of São Paulo, Instituto Florestal—P.E. da Cantareira, CEPESBI, FURB, Municipality of Indaial, and IBAMA/PB, RPPN Fazenda Pacatuba.

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Kitchen, D.M., da Cunha, R.G.T., Holzmann, I., de Oliveira, D.A.G. (2015). Function of Loud Calls in Howler Monkeys. In: Kowalewski, M., Garber, P., Cortés-Ortiz, L., Urbani, B., Youlatos, D. (eds) Howler Monkeys. Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-1957-4_14

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