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Behavioral Ecology (1)
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (1)
Gerald, Melissa S. (2)
Accamando, Amanda K. (1)
Brent, Lauren J. N. (1)
Dubuc, Constance (1)
Engelhardt, Antje (1)
Heistermann, Michael (1)
Higham, James P. (1)
Semple, Stuart (1)
Stevens, Martin (1)
Suggs, Dianne N. (1)
Year of Publication
Color signal information content and the eye of the beholder: a case study in the rhesus macaque
Higham, James P.
Brent, Lauren J. N.
Accamando, Amanda K.
Animal coloration has provided many classical examples of both natural and sexual selection. Methods to study color signals range from human assessment to models of receiver vision, with objective measurements commonly involving spectrometry or digital photography. However, signal assessment by a receiver is not objective but linked to receiver perception. Here, we use standardized digital photographs of female rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) face and hindquarter regions, combined with estimates of the timing of the female fertile phase, to assess how color varies with respect to this timing. We compare objective color measures (camera sensor responses) with models of rhesus vision (retinal receptor stimulation and visual discriminability). Due to differences in spectral separation between camera sensors and rhesus receptors, camera measures overestimated color variation and underestimated luminance variation compared with rhesus macaques. Consequently, objective digital camera measurements can produce statistically significant relationships that are probably undetectable to rhesus macaques, and hence biologically irrelevant, while missing variation in the measure that may be relevant. Discrimination modeling provided results that were most meaningful (as they were directly related to receiver perception) and were easiest to relate to underlying physiology. Further, this gave new insight into the function of such signals, revealing perceptually salient signal luminance changes outside of the fertile phase that could potentially enhance paternity confusion. Our study demonstrates how, even for species with similar visual systems to humans, models of vision may provide more accurate and meaningful information on the form and function of visual signals than objective color measures do.
color signaling; communication; receiver perception; visual discrimination threshold modeling
Bystanders affect the outcome of mother–infant interactions in rhesus macaques
Suggs, Dianne N.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Animal communication involves the transfer of information between a sender and one or more receivers. However, such interactions do not happen in a social vacuum; third parties are typically present, who can potentially eavesdrop upon or intervene in the interaction. The importance of such bystanders in shaping the outcome of communicative interactions has been widely studied in humans, but has only recently received attention in other animal species. Here, we studied bouts of infant crying among rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in order to investigate how the presence of bystanders may affect the outcome of this signalling interaction between infants and mothers. It was hypothesized that, as crying is acoustically aversive, bystanders may be aggressive to the mother or the infant in order to bring the crying bout to a close. Consequently, it was predicted that mothers should acquiesce more often to crying if in the presence of potentially aggressive animals. In line with this prediction, it was found that mothers gave infants access to the nipple significantly more often when crying occurred in the presence of animals that posed a high risk of aggression towards them. Both mothers and infants tended to receive more aggression from bystanders during crying bouts than outside of this time, although such aggression was extremely rare and was received by less than half of the mothers and infants in the study. Mothers were also found to be significantly more aggressive to their infants while the latter were crying than outside of crying bouts. These results provide new insight into the complex dynamics of mother–offspring conflict, and indicate that bystanders may play an important role in shaping the outcome of signalling interactions between infants and their mothers.
bystanders; audience; communication; crying; mother–offspring conflict; rhesus macaque
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