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Journal Article

Loud calls as indicators of dominance in male baboons (Papio cynocephalus ursinus)


Fischer,  Julia
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Kitchen, D. M., Seyfarth, R. M., Fischer, J., & Cheney, D. L. (2003). Loud calls as indicators of dominance in male baboons (Papio cynocephalus ursinus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 53(6), 374-384. doi:10.1007/s00265-003-0588-1.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-0633-5
Adult male baboons (Papio cynocephalus) give loud two-syllable 'wahoo' calls during dawn choruses, interactions between groups, when chasing females, and in aggressive interactions with other males. These 'contest' wahoos are acoustically different from 'alarm' wahoos given to predators. In a study of free-ranging baboons in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, we found no significant correlations between the acoustic features of wahoos and adult male size; however, acoustic features were correlated with male dominance rank, age, and calling bout length. Here we show that other measures of calling behavior also appear to function as honest indicators of stamina and competitive ability. High-ranking males were more likely than middle- or low-ranking males to participate in wahoo bouts. They called at significantly higher rates, and their bouts were longer and contained more calls. All males were significantly more likely to participate in wahoo bouts with another male if their opponent's rank was similar to their own. Bouts involving males of similar ranks were longer, contained more wahoos, and involved calling at higher rates, than other bouts. In contests between males of similar ranks, the subordinate and dominant were equally likely to end the bout, whereas in contests involving males of disparate ranks, subordinates were significantly more likely to end the bout. Bouts involving males of similar rank were significantly more likely than others to escalate and result in physical fighting.