The Perception of Sex-specificity in Long Calls of the Tamarin (Saguinus labiatus labiatus)


Department of Ethology, Faculty of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565, Japan.


Long calls given by red-chested moustached tamarins (Saguinus l. labiatus), typically 1–2 s in duration and made up of individual syllables, reveal distinctive sex-specificity as well as population and individual differences in their acoustic structure. Distributions of male calls and female vocalizations are discrete with regard to two acoustic parameters, i.e. number of syllables and mean inter-syllable intervals. Mean number of syllables produced in a given time is much greater in male than in female calls. I played back synthetic versions of the long calls varying in mean inter-syllable intervals to captive tamarins and found that the sex differences were encoded in a relatively simple acoustic form. The tamarin is able to identify the sex of unfamiliar calling conspecifics by voice alone.