Recognizing gibbons from their regional accents

Feb 07, 2011

Crested gibbons (genus Nomascus) live in dense Asian rainforest, specifically in China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and, because of their environment, they communicate with other gibbons by singing. Both males and females sing in order to define territory and find a mate, and couples also sing duets to strengthen their pair bonding. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology describes how gibbon song can be used to identify not only which species of Gibbon is singing but the area it is from.

Researchers from the German Primate Center, Goettingen, compared the songs and the genetic diversity of 19 populations, covering 6 species of crested gibbons, to their location. Gibbon songs are adapted to transmission in a forest so the transmission energy is concentrated in a single frequency band, with slow modulations, on an optimised song syllable. Consequently, in order to identify species, over 400 song samples were analysed using 53 acoustic parameters. between the species was measured by looking at mutations in the for mitochondrial cytochrome b.

The four most related songs came from the gibbon species with the most closely related DNA and geographical location, from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam with the gibbons from the southern most areas being more closely related to each other than to the more northerly Vietnamese gibbons and gibbons from China supporting the suggested migration direction from the North to the South.

Van Ngoc Thinh says that "Each gibbon has its own variable song but, much like people, there is a regional similarity between gibbons within the same location".

Explore further: Prehistoric conflict hastened human brain's capacity for collaboration, study says

More information: Concordance between vocal and genetic diversity in crested gibbons, Van Ngoc Thinh, Chris Hallam, Christian Roos, and Kurt Hammerschmidt, BMC Evolutionary Biology (in press)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When climate is iffy, birds sing a more elaborate tune

May 21, 2009

Why is it that some birds sing such elaborate songs and others not so much? A new study published online on May 21st in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, says that climate patterns might be part of the answer.

Recommended for you

Parasitic worm genomes: largest-ever dataset released

3 hours ago

The largest collection of helminth genomic data ever assembled has been published in the new, open-access WormBase-ParaSite. Developed jointly by EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, this new ...

Male sex organ distinguishes 30 millipede species

4 hours ago

The unique shapes of male sex organs have helped describe thirty new millipede species from the Great Western Woodlands in the Goldfields, the largest area of relatively undisturbed Mediterranean climate ...

How can we avoid kelp beds turning into barren grounds?

7 hours ago

Urchins are marine invertebrates that mould the biological richness of marine grounds. However, an excessive proliferation of urchins may also have severe ecological consequences on marine grounds as they ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.