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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/1587
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Title: The syntax and meaning of wild gibbon songs
Authors: Clarke, Esther
Reichard, Ulrich H.
Zuberbuehler, Klaus
Keywords: QL Zoology
GN Anthropology
Issue Date: 20-Dec-2006
Citation: Clarke , E , Reichard , U H & Zuberbuehler , K 2006 , ' The syntax and meaning of wild gibbon songs ' PLoS One , vol 1 , no. 1 , e73 , pp. - .
Abstract: Spoken language is a result of the human capacity to assemble simple vocal units into more complex utterances, the basic carriers of semantic information. Not much is known about the evolutionary origins of this behaviour. The vocal abilities of non-human primates are relatively unimpressive in comparison, with gibbon songs being a rare exception. These apes assemble a repertoire of call notes into elaborate songs, which function to repel conspecific intruders, advertise pair bonds, and attract mates. We conducted a series of field experiments with white-handed gibbons at Khao Yai National Park, Thailand, which showed that this ape species uses songs also to protect themselves against predation. We compared the acoustic structure of predatory-induced songs with regular songs that were given as part of their daily routine. Predator-induced songs were identical to normal songs in the call note repertoire, but we found consistent differences in how the notes were assembled into songs. The responses of out-of-sight receivers demonstrated that these syntactic differences were meaningful to conspecifics. Our study provides the first evidence of referential signalling in a free-ranging ape species, based on a communication system that utilises combinatorial rules.
Version: Publisher PDF
Status: Peer reviewed
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/1587
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000073
ISSN: 1932-6203
Type: Journal article
Rights: © 2006 Clarke et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:University of St Andrews Research
Psychology & Neuroscience Research
Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution Research
Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences Research



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