The acoustic features of vervet monkey grunts

J Acoust Soc Am. 1984 May;75(5):1623-8. doi: 10.1121/1.390872.


East African vervet monkeys give short (125 ms), harsh-sounding grunts to each other in a variety of social situations: when approaching a dominant or subordinate member of their group, when moving into a new area of their range, or upon seeing another group. Although all these vocalizations sound similar to humans, field playback experiments have shown that the monkeys distinguish at least four different calls. Acoustic analysis reveals that grunts have an aperiodic F0, at roughly 240 Hz. Most grunts exhibit a spectral peak close to this irregular F0. Grunts may also contain a second, rising or falling frequency peak, between 550 and 900 Hz. The location and changes in these two frequency peaks are the cues most likely to be used by vervets when distinguishing different grunt types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception
  • Cercopithecus / physiology*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Dominance-Subordination
  • Female
  • Male
  • Social Behavior
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Vocalization, Animal*