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Howling by the river: howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) communication in an anthropogenically-altered riparian forest in Costa Rica

In: Behaviour
Authors:
Laura M. BoltDepartment of Anthropology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1
The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519, USA

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Dorian G. RussellThe Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519, USA
Department of Environmental Science, American University, Washington, DC, USA

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Elizabeth M.C. CoggeshallThe Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519, USA
Department of Anthropology, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, USA

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Zachary S. JacobsonThe Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519, USA
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

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Carrie Merrigan-JohnsonThe Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519, USA
Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto at Mississauga, Mississauga, ON, Canada

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Amy L. SchreierDepartment of Biology, Regis University, Denver, CO 80221, USA
The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, P.O. Box 55-7519, Miami, FL 33255-7519, USA

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Abstract

The ways that forest edges may affect animal vocalization behaviour are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of various types of edge habitat on the loud calls (howls) of a folivorous-frugivorous primate species, Alouatta palliata, with reference to the ecological resource defence hypothesis, which predicts that males howl to defend vegetation resources. We tested this hypothesis across four forest zones — interior, riparian, anthropogenic, and combined forest edges — in a riparian forest fragment in Costa Rica. We predicted vegetation and howling would differ between forest zones, with riparian and interior zones showing the highest values and anthropogenic edge the lowest. Our results indicated that vegetation was richer and howling longer in riparian and interior zones compared to combined and anthropogenic edges, supporting the resource defence hypothesis and providing some of the first evidence in animal communication scholarship for differences in behavioural edge effects between natural riparian and anthropogenic edges.

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