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American Journal of Primatology





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Many birds and primates use loud vocalizations to mediate agonistic interactions with conspecifics, either as solos by males or females, or as coordinated duets. The extensive variation in duet complexity, the contribution of each sex, and the context in which duets are produced suggest that duets may serve several functions, including territory and mate defense. Titi monkeys (Callicebus spp.) are believed to defend their home range via solo loud calls or coordinated duets. Yet there are remarkably few experimental studies assessing the function of these calls. Observations of interactions between wild established groups and solitary individuals are rare and, therefore, controlled experiments are required to simulate such situations and evaluate the mate and joint territorial defense hypotheses. We conducted playback experiments with three free-ranging groups of habituated black-fronted titi monkeys (Callicebus nigrifrons) to test these hypotheses. We found that titi monkeys responded to the three conspecific playback treatments (duets, female solos, and male solos) and did not respond to the heterospecific control treatment. The monkeys did not show sex-specific responses to solos (N=12 trials). Partners started to duet together in 79% of their responses to playback-simulated rivals (N=14 calls in response to playback). Males started to approach the loudspeaker before females regardless of the type of stimulus. The strength of the response of mated pairs to all three conspecific treatments was similar. Overall, our results are consistent with the idea that black-fronted titi monkeys use their loud calls in intergroup communication as a mechanism of joint territorial defense. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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