The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Loud call variation in Cercopithecus mona: A proxy for genetic relatedness?


1Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2Humboldt Center for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, 3Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fordham University, Bronx, NY, 4Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation, St. George's University, Grenada, West Indies

March 28, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2/3/4/5 Add to calendar

Cercopithecus mona is one of eight guenon species known to emit loud call vocalizations referred to as ‘boom’ calls. In mona monkeys, these vocalizations are short, tonal, double-phased calls that occur at low frequencies (Hz). Booms, generally emitted only by lead males in mixed-sex groups, are typically produced as responses to perceived threats, for territorial defense, or to initiate group movement. Variation in vocal ability and behavior is traditionally argued to be primarily genetic (i.e., 90%), with minimal (10%) plasticity attributable to learning. If vocal behavior is largely inherited, then inter-groups comparisons of boom calls can be used to estimate genetic relatedness. A population of mona monkeys on the island of Grenada were introduced over 350 years ago by slave ships; however, the source population in Africa has yet to be determined. We tested whether acoustic similarities in boom calls could help ascertain from which mainland African population the Grenadian Cercopithecus mona stemmed. We analyzed boom call duration and bandwidth in 18 boom calls from two Cercopithecus mona populations in Nigeria and compared them with previously analyzed calls recorded in Cameroon (n=19), Benin (n=17), and on Grenada (n=16). Calls from Nigerian Cercopithecus mona had an average bandwidth of 358 Hz (range ~ 118-774 Hz), and a duration of 122 ms, making them most similar to booms recorded from Cameroon. Calls from Benin and Grenada are distinctly similar, supporting the hypothesis that mona monkeys on Grenada are descendants of a population from Benin.