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Keywords:

  • greeting call;
  • vocal development;
  • primates;
  • Japanese macaques;
  • vocal communication

Abstract

The main objective of this study is to clarify the developmental process involved in both the usage of greeting calls and the response to greeting calls by Japanese macaques. These greeting calls facilitate affiliative interactions by communicating benign intent. Specifically, individuals frequently emit greeting calls when interacting with less-predictable individuals. Here, we examined whether the targets at which greeting calls are directed, along with associated behavioral responses, differed among the age classes, by conducting a cross-sectional observation of females aged 0–5 yr and their mothers. We found that infant females showed a weak tendency to emit greeting calls at no specific receivers, unlike that by older females. Adult females emitted greeting calls more frequently when approaching unrelated females than related females. In contrast, young adult or juvenile females exhibited no significant difference in the proportion of the calls with related and unrelated conspecifics. Adult and young adult females were more likely to respond affiliatively to other individuals that approached using greeting calls compared with silent approaches, whereas juveniles did not exhibit different responses to the two types of approaches. This study showed that the target-specific usage and affiliative response to greeting calls emerge with changes in the developmental stage. Furthermore, the fact that even young adults did not use greeting calls as adults indicates that the usage of greeting calls is modified in conjunction with the expansion of social relationships.