Bolt, L. M. 2021. Agonistic vocalization behaviour in the male ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta). Primates 62(2), 417–430.
Vocalizations are used by group-living animals as aggressive and submissive signals during agonistic interactions, and are also used to maintain dominance hierarchies in many species. For gregarious strepsirrhines with large vocal repertoires and differentiated dominance ranks like the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), agonistic vocalization use is important to study to better understand their social adaptations.To determine whether ring-tailed lemur vocalizations such as the yip, cackle, twitter, chutter, and plosive bark were used as aggressive or submissive signals during agonism and uttered at different rates by males of differing dominance ranks and ages, 565 h of focal data were collected on 31 individual males aged ≥ 1 year from Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar. Yip, cackle, and twitter vocalizations were consistently used during agonistic submissive interactions with both males and females, chutter vocalizations were used during aggressive agonistic interactions with males and submissive agonistic interactions with males and females, and plosive bark vocalizations were used across behavioural contexts but not particularly during agonism. Males of all ages employed all vocalizations, and while low-ranking males uttered yip calls at higher rates, males of all dominance ranks uttered cackle, twitter, chutter, and plosive bark vocalizations. These results advance our knowledge of how male lemurs utilize agonistic vocalizations to maintain inter-individual relationships with males and females, and improve our overall understanding of the function of different agonistic vocalizations in wild lemurs.