Temporal patterns of chimpanzee loud calls in the Issa Valley, Tanzania: Evidence of nocturnal acoustic behavior in wild chimpanzees
Abstract Objectives Much is known about chimpanzee diurnal call patterns, but far less about night‐time vocal behavior. I deployed a passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) system to assess 24‐hr temporal acoustic activity of wild, unhabituated chimpanzees that live in a woodland mosaic habitat similar to hominin landscapes from the Plio‐Pleistocene. A primary aim was to apply findings to our broader understanding to chimpanzee 24‐hr activity patterns, and what implications this may have for reconstructing hominin adaptations to similarly hot, dry, and open landscapes. I also tested whether chimpanzees conform to the acoustic adaptation hypothesis, and produce loud calls during periods of optimal sound transmission. Methods Nine custom‐made solar‐powered acoustic transmission units (SPATUs) recorded continuously for 250 days over 11 months in the Issa Valley, western Tanzania. I complemented acoustic data with environmental data from weather stations as well as behavioral data collected on chimpanzee nest group sizes to assess the relationship between party size and calling. Results Chimpanzees called at all hours of the day and night in both wet and dry seasons, and night and day calls exhibited parallel rates/month, although twilight calls were produced significantly more in the dry, compared to the wet season. Calls were more likely during warmer temperatures and lower humidity. Call rate was positively associated with (nest) party size and counter‐calls exhibited no temporal variation in their origins (similar vs. adjacent valleys). Conclusions Chimpanzees were acoustically active throughout the 24‐hr cycle, although at low rates compared to diurnal activity, revealing night‐time activity in an ape otherwise described as diurnal. Chimpanzee loud calls partially, and weakly, conformed to the acoustic adaptation hypothesis and likely responded to social, rather than environmental factors. Call rates accurately reflect grouping patterns and PAM is demonstrated to be an effective means of remotely assessing activity, especially at times and from places that are difficult to access for researchers.
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