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Call type signals caller goal: A new take on ultimate and proximate influences in vocal production

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Schamberg,  Isaac
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Wittig,  Roman M.
Chimpanzees, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Crockford,  Catherine
Chimpanzees, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Schamberg, I., Wittig, R. M., & Crockford, C. (2018). Call type signals caller goal: A new take on ultimate and proximate influences in vocal production. Biological Reviews, 93(4), 2071-2082. doi:10.1111/brv.12437.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-3D41-2
Abstract
After 40 years of debate it remains unclear whether signallers produce vocalizations in order to provide receivers with information about call context or external stimuli. This has led some researchers to propose that call production is arousal‐ or affect‐based. Although arousal influences certain acoustic parameters within a call type, we argue that it cannot explain why individuals across vertebrates produce different call types. Given emerging evidence that calls are goal‐based, we argue that call type is a signal of a caller's goal to elicit a change in receiver behaviour. Using chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) as case studies, we demonstrate the two benefits of viewing call production as signalling both caller goal (which determines call type) and caller arousal (which affects within‐call‐type variation). Such a framework can explain first, why a single class of calls is apparently given in multiple contexts, and, second, why some species have larger call repertoires than others. Previous studies have noted links between sociality and repertoire size, but have not specified exactly why animals living in societies that are more complex might require a greater number of differentiated signals. The caller‐goal framework potentially clarifies how social complexity might favour call diversification. As social complexity increases, callers may need to elicit a larger number of distinct behaviours from a wider range of distinct audiences.