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The relationship between testosterone and long-distance calling in wild male chimpanzees

Fedurek P, Slocombe KE, Enigk DK, Thompson ME, Wrangham RW & Muller MN (2016) The relationship between testosterone and long-distance calling in wild male chimpanzees. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70 (5), pp. 659-672.

Long-distance calling is a common behaviour in animals, which has various important social functions. At a physiological level, calling is often mediated by gonadal hormones such as testosterone (T), particularly when its function is linked to intra-sexual competition for mates or territory. T also plays an important role in the development of vocal characteristics associated with dominance in humans. However, the few available studies of T and vocal behaviour in non-human primates suggest that in primates, T has less influence on call production than in other animals. We tested this hypothesis by studying the relationship between T concentrations and pant-hooting in wild male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) of the Kanyawara community in the Kibale National Park, Uganda. We found three kinds of correlation. Hourly T averages were positively associated with hourly rates of pant-hooting. Monthly T levels were likewise correlated with monthly rates of pant-hooting after controlling for other influences such as fission-fusion rates. Finally, males with high T levels had higher peak frequency at the start of the call climax. These results suggest that T affects the production of pant-hoots in chimpanzees. This implies that the pant-hoot call plays a role in male-male competition. We propose that even in cognitively sophisticated species, endocrine mechanisms can contribute to regulating vocal production.

chimpanzee; testosterone; vocal behaviour; pant-hooting; acoustic structure;

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology: Volume 70, Issue 5

Author(s)Fedurek, Pawel; Slocombe, Katie E; Enigk, Drew K; Thompson, Melissa Emery; Wrangham, Richard W; Muller, Martin N
FundersNSF and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Publication date31/05/2016
Publication date online02/03/2016
Date accepted by journal16/02/2016
PublisherSpringer Nature
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