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Mate Change Enhances Duetting Activity in the Siamang Gibbon (Hylobates Syndactulus)

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Siamang gibbons produce long and complex duet songs. The hypothesis that duetting may act as advertisement of the presence and the status of a mated pair has repeatedly been suggested for duetting birds. If a pair bonding effect of the duet is actually attained through a partner-directed learning effort resulting in a pair-specific duet, the learning investment should be concentrated into a time period as short as possible in order to avoid competitors. Therefore, after the formation of a new pair, an increase of singing activity should be expected. In order to test this prediction, the singing activity of a pair of captive siamang before and after a partner exchange was compared. In the newly formed pair, an increase in singing activity was observed. Additional observations on a second new pair show a similar trend. In this case, both new mates remained in their familiar place so that their singing activity was unlikely to be affected by the process of establishing a new territory.

Affiliations: 1: (Anthropological Institute, University Zürich-Irchel, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland


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