Effects of meteorology, astronomical variables, location and human disturbance on the singing apes: Hylobates albibarbis


  • Susan M. Cheyne

    Corresponding author
    1. CIMTROP, Kampus UNPAR, Tunjung Nyaho, Jalan Yos Sudarso Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
    • Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Abingdon, UK OX13 5QL
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Gibbons are characterized by their species-specific calls. The frequency of singing is known to be affected by rainfall, with singing occurring less in the wet season. I investigate the hypothesis that gibbon singing is also affected by the natural light-dark cycle, and by the changing light intensity and air quality resulting from the smoke haze which blankets the Indonesian island of Borneo on a yearly basis. I compare three singing variables—onset of singing, average duration of singing bout and number of female great calls produced during the dry season of 2006 when there was no smoke haze (June–August) and when there was smoke haze present (September–November). I present evidence which indicates that the changes in singing behavior are affected by changes in rainfall and smoke intensity but not by other meteorological factors (i.e. wind and light intensity) or changing astronomical cues (light intensity, month, time of sunrise, time of moonrise, nocturnal illumination index, day length and night length). The possible long-term effects of this on gibbon behavior and territoriality are discussed. The need to carry out more research on the long-term effects of the smoke haze on wildlife behavior and possible solutions to the problem are discussed. Am. J. Primatol. 70:386–392, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.