Norris, Jeffrey Copeland. (1990) The Semantics of Cebus olivaceus Alarm Calls: Object Designation and Attribution.
Abstract of dissertation presented to the graduate school of
the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Jeffrey Copelans Norris
December, 1990 Chairman: Dr. John F. Eisenberg Major Department: Forest Resources and Conservation (Wildlife and Range Sciences)
Wedge- capped capuchin monkeys, Cebus olivaceus, give acoustically distinct alarm calls to different predators. The semantics of these alarm calls were studied in central Venezuela in three stages: 1) through recordings of Cebus Olivaceus vocal response to various predators, 2) through release of boa constrictors of three sizes (small, medium and large) and two quantities (one and two), and 3) through playback of resulting calls. Alarm calls to released snakes were categorized by acoustic features into 15 variants, 2 of which were used solely when a snake was on the ground and a third when a snake was in a tree. The playback of the locational calls showed that upon hearing a call a capuchin looked in a particular direction, into trees or toward the ground, at the appropriate call. Capuchins use alarm calls to not only designate objects but also to attribute qualities such as location to those objects.