Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar) Great Call Reveals Individual Caller Identity

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Gibbons (family Hylobatidae) produce loud, elaborate vocalizations (songs), often in well-coordinated male/female duets. The female's great call, the most conspicuous phrase of the gibbon vocal repertoire, functions primarily to mediate territorial defense. Despite the fact that lar gibbons (Hylobates lar) are the most widely distributed and well researched hylobatid species and produce a rich vocal repertoire, the individual-specificity of their great calls has not previously been quantified. In addition, spectral and temporal features of notes occurring at specific locations within the lar great call have not been described. Here we provide such a description, and test the hypothesis that great calls are statistically discriminable between a large sample of individual callers. We compared recordings of great calls from 14 wild lar females in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. Our analyses of principal components derived from spectral and temporal measures, as well as spectrograms from the entire great call, indicate that acoustic variation is sufficient to allow identification of individual callers (83.5% discriminability based on principal components, and inter-individual call variation exceeding intra-individual variation in overall spectrogram). These vocalizations potentially allow individual recognition of animals.


Date of Electronic Publication: 2015 Mar 19.

PMID: 25800578