Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur, Lepilemur sahamalaza, Vocal Communication: Call Use, Context and Gradation.
AbstractStereotypical vocalisations can facilitate long-distance communication in dense and, thus, sound-degrading forest habitats. Despite this, primate vocal repertoires often also include gradations between different call types that are used in social interactions. Because many nocturnal primates show a solitary social structure, it has been difficult to assess the role vocalisations play in mediating their social encounters. Here we aim to expand on the call types of Sahamalaza sportive lemurs, Lepilemur sahamalaza, as well as investigate their variability and use in social contexts. Through long-term behavioural observations with concurrent recording of vocalisations of known and unknown individuals between 2015 and 2016, we described three previously unrecorded calls and expanded the vocal repertoire to 12 different call types that were used in both targeted social and broadcast solitary contexts. Linear discriminant function and cluster analysis supported initial observations that vocalisations within call types were variable and that at least two call types can be classified as "graded," contrary to expectations. Despite variations in call-context connections, no clear patterns of call use could be established. However, measurable differences in vocal behaviour between the seasons and the sexes indicate that calling is used in a reproductive context, similar to other nocturnal and diurnal primates.