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Abstract

Japanese macaques, Macaca fuscata, frequently utter coo calls to maintain vocal contact. Cross-sectional and longitudinal comparisons were conducted on the acoustic features of coo vocalizations of two groups of M. fuscata, Yakushima and Ohirayama groups, to explore the possibility of vocal plasticity. These two groups derive from the same local population but have been separated for more than 34 yr. The Yakushima group is non-provisioned, while the Ohirayama group is provisioned. Initially, coo calls in the two groups were compared cross-sectionally in females ranging from 0 to 18 yr. Mean values of the four variables studied (start, end, maximum, and minimum frequencies) were consistently lower in all age groups of the Ohirayama individuals compared with the Yakushima individuals. Secondly, longitudinal comparisons were conducted on individuals in the 1–4 yr after birth. Mean values of the five frequency variables studied (start, end, maximum, minimum and average frequencies) were again consistently lower in all age groups of Ohirayama compared with Yakushima individuals, although mean values of both groups gradually declined with an increase in age. Inter-group differences were significant at all ages in minimum frequency and at the first, second and third years in start frequency. Longitudinal comparisons of individuals aged 4–11 mo were also conducted. Regarding the four variables that differed between the two groups in the cross-sectional study, the mean values of minimum and start frequency did not differ significantly between the two groups at 4–5 mo, but were significantly lower in Ohirayama individuals aged 7–8 and 9–11 mo. Although provisioning may have had an effect on the weight difference between the groups, and consequently on vocalization frequency, these results suggest that the inter-group differences in coo call features form approximately 6–7 mo after birth as a result of vocal plasticity.