Proyecto Tití: Conserving the Cotton-top Tamarin in Colombia

Proyecto Tití:
Conserving the
Cotton-top Tamarin
in Colombia
Proyecto Tití: Conserving the Cotton-top Tamarin in Colombia

Cotton-top Tamarin Vocalizations

Cotton-top tamarins have an extensive vocal repertoire which is derived from the variation of two basic elements and the sequential combination of those elements (Cleveland and Snowdon 1982). The vocalizations described here were recorded over 18 months from a captive colony in Madison, Wisconsin with a Uher 4200 stereo tape recorder using a Sennheiser MD 441 microphone and either Scotch 209 or 177 low noise recording tape. Recordings were done at 9.5 cm/s. Sound spectrograms were made on a Kay Sonagraph Model 6061 B using a narrow band pass filter (90 Hz) over the frequency range of 160 to 16,000 Hz.

By assessing the structural and behavioral correlates of the vocalizations, 38 distinct sounds or combinations of sounds were identifies. The simplify the description of the repertoire, the sounds were grouped into six major classes based on structure.


Class 1: Single Frequency Modulated Syllables

A. Short Duration Calls - Chirps were categorized according to four structural parameters: presence or absence of stem upsweep, duration, peak frequency, and frequency change. See Table 1 for call parameters.

Type A Chirp


During mobbing behavior, to sudden animated stimuli. By some groups to preferred foods. Rarely given to acoustical stimuli. Type A Chirp3
Type B Chirp

(Directed Investigatory)

To human observers or familiar object. Type B Chirp
Type C Chirp


During approach to food or when individual approaches object that will be hand-held and orally explored. Type C Chirp
Type D Chirp


When animal actually possesses food or object. Type D Chirp
Type E Chirp

(General Alarm)

To sudden visual and acoustic stimuli. To sudden leaping movement by group members if animal startled. Type E Chirp
Type F Chirp


During intergroup antiphonal calling of Normal Long Calls. To audible outgroup vocalizations. Type F Chirp
Type G Chirp

(Nonspecific Investigatory)

During relaxed environmental investigation. Type G Chirp
Type H Chirp

(Mild Alarm)

To novel visual stimuli at close proximity. Type H Chirp

Table 1. Parameters differentiating types of chirps.

Call Type Stem Upsweep Duration (ms) Peak Frequency Frequency Change

Type A


79.9 ± 29.7

8.7 ± 1.7

5.9 ± 1.6

Type B


100.0 ± 26.0

6.0 ± 1.0

2.0 ± 0.6

Type C


25.2 ± 5.4

10.4 ± 1.2

3.4 ± 1.0

Type D


42.6 ± 10.2

8.2 ± 0.7

3.3 ± 1.5

Type E


36.9 ± 10.4

8.0 ± 1.6

3.1 ± 1.2

Type F


56.0 ± 19.7

4.1 ± 0.7

1.0 ± 0.4

Type G


57.9 ± 10.7

9.0 ± 1.1

6.1 ± 0.7

Type H


20.8 ± 4.1

5.5 ± 0.8

2.9 ± 0.8

B. Long Duration Calls

Squeal During active physical contact by the passive participant: during wrestle play or face pressing between two individuals. squeal
Slicing Scream Same as Type A Chirp Slicing Scream

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Class 2: Pulsed Vocalizations



Same as Squeal. Results from intensification of Squeal Context. twitter
Hooked Chatter Same as Type D Chirp (food related). As infants approach. hooked chatter
Chevron Chatter Towards humans when animal is netted or placed in small cage. Also by some animals in response to human approaching them closely in home cage. Chevron Chatter
Type E Chirp Chatter Same as for Type A Chirp only when animal is more highly aroused. Type E Chirp Chatter
Type F Chirp Trill


Same as for Type F Chirp. Tilling indicative of a higer state of arousal than Type F Chirp alone. Type F Chirp Trill
Type H Chirp Trill Same as for Type H Chirp. Type H Chirp Trill
Type A Trill During Antiphonal Call play interactions prior to attempted play mounts. Type A Trill
Type B Trill By individuals as they approach young infants to retrieve them. Also given by animals carrying young infants when infants move, vocalize or attempt to climb off. Type B Trill
Type C Trill Signals the end of a nursing bout, interspersed with Terminally Modulated Whistles. Type C Trill

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Class 3: Single Whistles

Squeak In vigilance, foraging and investigatory activities. Increase in rate of emission with increase in arousal. squeak
Large Initially Modulated Whistle Given greater than 0.6 m from other animals in low arousal situation. Not given during resting, grooming, nursing, except occasionally when animals break contact. Occurs during Antiphonal Call play large init mod whistle
Small Initially Modulated Whistle Same as Large Initially Modulated Whistle except given at distances less than 0.6 m from other group members. small init mod whistle
Terminally Modulated Whistle By individuals in resting contact, during grooming, by mothers during nursing, by parents and siblings retrieving and carrying infants. terminal mod whistle
Flat Whistle Given following Type F, H or E Chirp Trills flat whistle

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Class 4: Multiple Whistle Calls

Ascending Multi-Whistle


By animals in huddles, by mothers nursing infants. Ascend mult whistle
Descending Multi-Whistle


Same as Ascending Multi-Whistle and Terminally Modulated Whistle. More commonly given to infants. descend multi whistle
Partial Quiet Long Call


By mothers nursing infants. By subadults during close huddle contact and pauses during wrestle play. partial quiet long call
Rapid Whistles


Before an approach to mount during Anti-phonal Call play. rapid whistles
Quiet Long Call


To audible Single Whistles, Chevron Chatters, Type H Trills, Twitters, Long Calls from unfamiliar animals. Occasionally given to no obvious stimulus during group huddles. quiet long call
Normal Long Call


To distant non-group Combination Long Calls, Normal Long Calls, Type F Chirps. During isolation. normal long call

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Class 5. Combination Vocalizations

Small Modulated Multi-Level Same as Small Initially Modulated Whistle small mod mult level
Large Modulated Multi-Level Same as Large Initially Modulated Whistle large mod multi level
Combination Long Call During play, isolation or when socially disturbed. When animal not in contact. Combo long call
Inverted U + Whistle In alarm to faint acoustical stimuli after an alert has been signaled. inverted U
Type F Chirp + Whistle By individuals less confident than when giving Normal Long Calls. As response to Combination or Normal Long Calls or non-group Type F Chirps. In isolation. Type F Chirp+ Whistle

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Class 6. Noisy Calls

Squawk By recipient of aggressive behavior. In some animals as an appeasement gesture, by others as an invitation for grooming. squawk
Scream When animals attempt to steal food. scream
Sneeze After eating, drinking water, sniffing or as result of rubbing nose on substrate or with hand. sneeze

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