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Chimpanzee quiet hoo variants differ according to context

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Abstract

In comparative studies of evolution of communication, the function and use of animal quiet calls have typically been understudied, despite that these signals are presumably under selection like other vocalisations, such as alarm calls. Here, we examine vocal diversification of chimpanzee quiet ‘hoos’ produced in three contexts - travel, rest and alert - and potential pressures promoting diversification. Previous playback and observational studies have suggested that the overarching function of chimpanzee hoos is to stay in contact with others, particularly bond partners. We conducted an acoustic analysis of hoos using audio-recordings from wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) of Budongo Forest, Uganda. We identified three acoustically distinguishable, context-specific hoo variants. Each call variant requires specific responses from receivers to avoid breaking up the social unit. We propose that callers may achieve coordination by using acoustically distinguishable calls, advertising their own behavioural intentions. We conclude that natural selection has acted towards acoustically diversifying an inconspicuous, quiet vocalisation, the chimpanzee hoo. This evolutionary process may have been favoured by the fact that signallers and recipients share the same goal, to maintain social cohesion, particularly amongst those who regularly cooperate, suggesting that vocal diversification has been favoured by the demands of cooperative activities.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number172066
Number of pages13
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018

    Research areas

  • Animal communication, Chimpanzee, Call diversification, Cooperation

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