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Dec 5, 2013

Interspecific semantice alarm call recognistion in the solitary Sahamalaza sportive lemur


The correct interpretation of alarm calls, including those of other species, is essential for predator avoidance.

The correct interpretation of alarm calls, including those of other species, is essential for predator avoidance. Interspecific communication between taxonomic groups has been reported in reptiles and mammals, including three primate species. So far, neither semantic nor interspecific communication has been tested in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species. The aim of this study was to investigate if the nocturnal and solitary Sahamalaza sportive lemur is able to access semantic information of sympatric species. During the day, this species faces the risk of falling prey to aerial and terrestrial predators and shows high levels of vigilance. We presented alarm calls of the crested coua, the Madagascar magpie-robin and aerial, terrestrial and agitation alarm calls of the blue-eyed black lemur to 19 individual Sahamalaza sportive lemurs resting in tree holes, and used songs and contact calls of each species as a control. After alarm calls of crested coua, Madagascar magpie-robin and aerial alarm of the blue-eyed black lemur, the lemurs scanned up and their vigilance increased significantly. After presentation of terrestrial alarm and agitation calls of the blue-eyed black lemur, the animals did not change their scanning direction or the duration of vigilance. Sportive lemur vigilance decreased after songs of the bird species and contact calls of blue-eyed black lemurs. Our results indicate that the Sahamalaza sportive lemur is capable of using information on predator presence and predator type of different species, using their referential signals to detect predators early, and that the lemurs’ reactions are based on experience and learning.



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