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Keywords:

  • copulation call;
  • communication;
  • sexual selection;
  • baboon;
  • Papio cynocephalus cynocephalus

Abstract

In a wide variety of animal species, females produce vocalizations just before, during, or immediately after copulation. Observational and experimental evidence indicates that these copulation calls are sexually selected traits, functioning to promote competition between males for access to the calling female. In this paper, we present an acoustic analysis of variation in the form of copulation calls of female yellow baboons, Papio cynocephalus cynocephalus. In particular, we examine whether information about three factors—the calling female’s reproductive state, the occurrence or absence of ejaculation, and the dominance rank of the mating male—is encoded in call structure and hence is potentially available to male receivers attending to the signal. Although several features of copulation calls were correlated with each of these factors, when all three were included in multiple regressions only reproductive state and rank of the mating male had independent effects on call form. These findings indicate that female copulation calls in this species signal information about the proximity to ovulation of the calling female and also the relative competitive strength of her mating partner. Am. J. Primatol. 56:43–56, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.