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Abstract

Individual and contextual differences in male loud calls of wild Thomas langurs (Presbytis thomasi) were studied in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Loud calls were given in the following contexts: morning calls, vocal responses to other groups, between-group encounter calls and alarm calls. Loud call spectrograms were analysed for a large number of variables. With discriminant analyses, 14 variables were found to be important in distinguishing individuals and contexts. Loud calls were assigned to the correct individual in 95.6% of the cases (91.8% with ‘leave-one-out’ validation) and to the correct context in 52.2% of the cases (39.0% with ‘leave-one-out’ validation). Further analyses with two-way anovas showed significant differences in both temporal and frequency variables between individuals and contexts. Loud calls seemed to differ between the contexts in functionally meaningful ways, relating to the distance of the intended receivers and to the urgency of the message. Observation showed that females in the caller's group collected infants more often in the between-group encounter context and in the alarm call context than in the vocal exchange context. These differential responses suggest that the monkeys also perceive the measurable differences in loud call characteristics between the various contexts.