The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

A pilot description and categorization of Kinda baboon vocalizations


Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

Thursday Afternoon, 301D Add to calendar

Kinda baboons (Papio kindae) differ from other baboons in both body size and body size dimorphism, and exhibit a number of social and behavioral peculiarities. These physical and behavioral differences are expected to result in differences in structure, frequency, and context of Kinda baboon vocalizations relative to other baboons. In summer 2012, I recorded 658 calls or call bouts opportunistically over a one-month period at Kafue National Park, Zambia. Whenever possible, vocalizations were supplemented with ad lib behavioral observations.

The most commonly encountered calls (>50 recordings each) were: grunts, screams, threat barks, and “fear” gecks. In contrast to other baboons, copulation calls were absent and the prevalence of barks/wahoos was low. While the rarity of barks/wahoos may reflect variation in ranging behaviors, group demographic histories, and environmental features, the absence of copulation calls (after 69 documented copulations) appears to be a distinctive characteristic of this taxon and is consistent with observations of Kinda baboons at Kasanka National Park, Zambia. At Kafue National Park, observed copulations were more commonly followed by agonistic behaviors among males, accompanied by screams and threat barks, or grunting by the male partner. Taken together, the vocal behaviors associated with copulations in Kinda baboons shed important light on the meaning and function of female copulation calls. The absence of copulation calls in Kinda baboons stands in contrast to existing reports from all other baboon taxa and provides support for the female choice hypothesis.

This research was supported by summer research funding provided by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

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