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Hohmann, G. and Fruth, Barbara (1994): Structure and use of distance calls in wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). In: International Journal of Primatology, Vol. 15, No. 5: pp. 767-782

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We report the physical structure and use of a distance call (high-hoot) by wild bonobos (Pan paniscus). Although spectrographic analyses reveal high structural variability, the total sample can be subdivided according to the composition of units - the presence or absence of an initial segment - and the range of the lowest harmonic. Analyses of samples from male-female pairs, vocalizing simultaneously and in close proximity, reveal that both animals utter calls in more or less precise temporal alternation but with different spectral ranges. Whether these differences are gender-specific or related to other factors, such as age or the social relations between particular individuals, is not clear. We suggest that (a) individuals of the same party may coordinate their vocal activity on both the temporal and the spectral level and (b) high hootings stimulate emission of equal vocalizations by members of other parties and may increase cohesion among community members. Comparison of a restricted number of spectrograms from known individuals indicates that bonobos may be able to adjust spectral parameters of one type of distance calls (high-hoot) according to corresponding calls of conspecifics.

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