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New bioacoustic articles in Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 66(5)

Subject: New bioacoustic articles in Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 66(5)
From: Sonja Amoser <>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 10:05:46 +0100
Cristiane Cäsar, Richard Byrne, Robert J. Young & Klaus Zuberbühler (2012): The 
alarm call system of wild black-fronted titi monkeys, Callicebus nigrifrons. 
Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 66(5), 653-667.

Abstract: Upon encountering predators, many animals produce specific 
vocalisations that alert others and sometimes dissuade the predators from 
hunting. Callicebus monkeys are known for their large vocal repertoire, but 
little is known about the function and meaning of most call types. We recorded 
a large number of natural predator responses from five different groups of 
black-fronted titi monkeys in their Atlantic forest habitat in South Eastern 
Brazil. When detecting predatory threats, adult group members responded with 
call sequences that initially consisted of two brief, high-pitched calls with 
distinct frequency contours. Call A was mainly given to raptors but also to 
predatory capuchin monkeys and other threats within the canopy, while call B 
was given to predatory or non-predatory disturbances on the ground. In later 
parts of the sequences, we also recorded a high-pitched unmodulated call C and 
various low-pitched loud calls. Results therefore suggest that calls A and B 
provide listeners with rapid and reliable information about the general classes 
of danger experienced by the caller, while obtaining more specific information 
through other call types and combinations and behavioural responses. We discuss 
these findings in relation to current evolutionary theory of primate 

For reprints please contact Klaus Zuberbühler (email: 

Christoph Randler (2012): A possible phylogenetically conserved urgency 
response of great tits (Parus major) towards allopatric mobbing calls. Behav. 
Ecol. Sociobiol. 66(5), 675-681.

Abstract: Black-capped chickadees Poecile atricapillus alter the number of D 
notes of their chick-a-dee call to reflect urgency and threat. Here, I tested 
whether heterospecific responses of an allopatric species to these mobbing 
calls occur. Heterospecific chickadee mobbing calls and songs from North 
America were broadcast to European great tits (Parus major) and compared with 
conspecific mobbing calls. During conspecific mobbing playbacks, all great tits 
approached the speaker, during the heterospecific “chick-a-dee” playbacks, 
63.3% individuals approached the speaker, while during the song playback, only 
31.3% of the great tits approached the speaker. Minimum distances of great tits 
were lower during conspecific mobbing calls compared to allopatric chick-a-dee 
calls and to allopatric chickadee song. Also, minimum distances were lower when 
comparing allopatric chick-a-dee calls and chickadee song. Great tits 
approached the speaker on average down to (mean ± SE) 20.0 ± 1.8 m during 
playbacks of 1–4 D elements, to 17.7 ± 2.0 m during playbacks of 5–7 D elements 
and down to 11.5 ± 2.0 m during playbacks of 8–11 D elements. The number of D 
notes was inversely related to minimum distance. Thus, the urgency message 
encoded in the D notes was perceived also by an allopatric but phylogenetically 
related European species, suggesting that the heterospecific response is 
possibly phylogenetically conserved.

For reprints please contact Christoph Randler (email: 

Christopher E. Zachau & Todd M. Freeberg (2012): Chick-a-dee call variation in 
the context of “flying” avian predator stimuli: a field study of Carolina 
chickadees (Poecile carolinensis). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 66(5), 683-690.

Abstract: Chick-a-dee calls function in social organization in Poecile 
(chickadee) species. Recent field and aviary studies have found that variation 
in chick-a-dee calls relates to the type or proximity of avian predator, or 
level of threat. Earlier studies on calls in the context of predator stimuli 
have typically used stationary and perched predator models. For chickadees and 
other small songbirds, more frequently detected and more dangerous avian 
predatory stimuli are flying predators. In the present study, we tested whether 
simulated flying avian predator and control models influenced chick-a-dee 
calling behavior of wild Carolina chickadees, Poecile carolinensis. At 20 
independent field sites, chickadee subjects were presented with wooden models 
that were painted to resemble either a predatory sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter 
striatus) or a blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) and that were made to “fly” down 
a zip line near a feeding station chickadees were using. The note composition 
of chick-a-dee calls was affected by both the flight of stimuli and type of 
model. Call variation in this flying predator context suggests interesting 
similarities and differences with experimental findings with congeners. 
Finally, increased production of certain notes to the flying of both model 
types provides support for a “Better Safe than Sorry” strategy. When costs of 
alarm calling are low but costs of discriminating potentially serious threats 
may be extremely high, individuals should err on the side of caution, and alarm 
call to any potentially threatening stimulus.

For reprints please contact Todd M. Freeberg (email: 

Kind regards

Sonja Amoser

Dr. Sonja Amoser
Steinrieglstraße 286
3400 Weidlingbach

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