Song Functions In Nonduetting Gibbons: Evidence From Playback Experiments On Javan Gibbons (Hylobates moloch)

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan Lappan PhD, Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Territorial, pair-living primates usually perform long-distance calls as duets in which adult males and females coordinate their calls. Previous studies using playback experiments have shown that gibbon duets convey information about the status of the caller (location, familiarity, sex of the caller, and paired status) and gibbons use this information to respond to achieve several nonmutually exclusive functions, including intragroup contact, territorial defense, and pair-bond advertisement and strengthening. However, not all pair-living gibbons duet, and it is unclear whether the same results should be expected in nonduetting species. We conducted song playback experiments (N = 47 trials) to test hypotheses about song functions in nonduetting gibbons on two groups of wild Javan gibbons (Hylobates moloch) in the Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park, Indonesia. Javan gibbons initiated movement toward the speaker more quickly in response to songs broadcast in the center of the territory, stranger songs, and songs of unpaired individuals than to songs at the border, neighbor songs, and songs from paired individuals. These results suggest that Javan gibbons can localize songs, and that Javan gibbon songs transmit information about the identity and paired status of the caller. Our results imply that Javan gibbon solo songs are likely to function for territorial defense and pair-bond advertisement like duets in other primates.

Additional Information

Ham, S., Hedwig, D., Lappan, S. et al. Song Functions in Nonduetting Gibbons: Evidence from Playback Experiments on Javan Gibbons (Hylobates moloch). Int J Primatol 37, 225–240 (2016). Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2016
Hylobates moloch, Information transmission, Javan gibbons, Nonduetting gibbons, Primate duets, Song functions

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