Vocal repertoires and call structure can provide insights into the behaviour and evolution of species, as well as aid in taxonomic classification. Nocturnal primates have large vocal repertoires. This suggests that acoustic communication plays an important role in their life histories. Little is known about the behavioural context or the intraspecific variation of their vocalisations. We used autonomous recording units and manual recorders to investigate the vocal behaviour and structure of loud calls of the small-eared greater galago (Otolemur garnettii) in Kenya and Tanzania. We describe the vocal repertoire, temporal calling patterns and structure of 2 loud calls of 2 subspecies: O. g. panganiensis and O. g. kikuyuensis. We found considerable intraspecific structural differences in both loud calls. These are congruent with the current subspecies classification. Differences in vocalisations among populations are not consistent with the “acoustic adaptation hypothesis,” rather they are likely a result of geographic variation due to isolation caused by vegetational barriers in southern Kenya.
Like other nocturnal primates, many species of galago (Galagidae) are phenotypically cryptic, making their taxonomic status difficult to resolve. Recent taxonomic work has disentangled some of the confusion. This has resulted in an increase in the number of recognised galago species. The most widespread galago species, and indeed the most widespread nocturnal primate, is the northern lesser galago (Galago senegalensis) whose geographic range stretches >7,000 km across Africa. Based on morphology, 4 subspecies are currently recognised: G. s. senegalensis, G. s. braccatus, G. s. sotikae and G. s. dunni. We explore geographic and subspecific acoustic variation in G. senegalensis, testing three hypotheses: isolation by distance, genetic basis, and isolation by barrier. There is statistical support for isolation by distance for 2 of 4 call parameters (fundamental frequency and unit length). Geographic distance explains a moderate amount of the acoustic variation. Discriminant function analysis provides some degree of separation of geographic regions and subspecies, but the percentage of misdesignation is high. Despite having (putative) parapatric geographic ranges, the most pronounced acoustic differences are between G. s. senegalensis and G. s. dunni. The findings suggest that the Eastern Rift Valley and Niger River are significant barriers for G. senegalensis. The acoustic structures of the loud calls of 121 individuals from 28 widespread sites are not significantly different. Although this makes it unlikely that additional unrecognised species occur within G. senegalensis at the sites sampled, vast areas of the geographic range remain unsampled. We show that wide-ranging species do not necessarily exhibit large amounts of variation in their vocal repertoire. This pattern may also be present in nocturnal primates with smaller geographic ranges.