Context and sex differences exist in the acoustic structure of phee calls by newly-paired common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

J. L. Norcross, J. D. Newman, L. M. Cofrancesco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Captive common marmosets of all ages robustly produce a 'separation' phee call during brief separations from their group. In contrast, a second structural variant, which may function as an intergroup call, is produced in the home cage primarily by the reproductive adults. A previous study found that postpubertal but nonreproductive offspring rarely produce phee calls when in the home cage with the natal group, yet these marmosets call frequently after pairing with an opposite-sex partner. The sudden increase in home cage phee calls may indicate the rapid onset of intergroup calling. Alternatively, marmosets may be producing the separation phee variant as a result of separation from the natal group. The present study investigated whether phee calls produced by recently paired individuals in the home cage were structurally distinguishable from their calls recorded in a separation paradigm. We also tested whether sex differences, known to exist in the calls of mature adults, could be found in calls recorded from younger, nonreproductive animals separated from their natal groups. We analyzed 18 acoustic parameters of phee calls produced in the home cage after pairing and of calls produced during separation both from the natal group and from a new mate. Discriminant function analyses found that home cage calls were clearly discriminable from separation calls (average 91.7% correctly classified), indicating that the rapid increase in home cage phee call production shortly after pairing is not a consequence of separation from the family group. Postpubertal marmosets appear to show a rapid behavioral adjustment to separation from their natal groups. Additionally, sex was clearly discriminable in calls recorded both before and after pairing (average 86.8% correctly classified). Like calls recorded from well-established paired marmosets, phee calls produced by recently paired, postpubertal marmosets are discriminable by context and sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Acoustic structure
  • Callithrix jacchus
  • Common marmosets
  • Sex differences
  • Social environment
  • Vocalizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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