Small but wise: Common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) use acoustic signals as cues to avoid interactions with blonde capuchin monkeys (Sapajus flavius)

Monique Bastos, Karolina Medeiros, Gareth Jones, Bruna Bezerra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Vocalizations are often used by animals to communicate and mediate social interactions. Animals may benefit from eavesdropping on calls from other species to avoid predation and thus increase their chances of survival. Here we use both observational and experimental evidence to investigate eavesdropping and how acoustic signals may mediate interactions between two sympatric and endemic primate species (common marmosets and blonde capuchin monkeys) in a fragment of Atlantic Rainforest in Northeastern Brazil. We observed 22 natural vocal encounters between the study species, but no evident visual or physical contact over the study period. These two species seem to use the same area throughout the day, but at different times. We broadcasted alarm and long distance calls to and from both species as well as two control stimuli (i.e., forest background noise and a loud call from an Amazonian primate) in our playback experiments. Common marmosets showed anti-predator behavior (i.e., vigilance and flight) when exposed to blonde capuchin calls both naturally and experimentally. However, blonde capuchin monkeys showed no anti-predator behavior in response to common marmoset calls. Blonde capuchins uttered long distance calls and looked in the direction of the speaker following exposure to their own long distance call, whereas they fled when exposed to their own alarm calls. Both blonde capuchin monkeys and common marmosets showed fear behaviors in response to the loud call from a primate species unknown to them, and showed no apparent response to the forest background noise. Common marmoset responses to blonde capuchin calls suggests that the latter is a potential predator. Furthermore, common marmosets appear to be eavesdropping on calls from blonde capuchin monkeys to avoid potentially costly encounters with them.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22744
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • anti-predator strategy
  • interespecific relations
  • playback experiments
  • vocalizations

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Small but wise: Common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) use acoustic signals as cues to avoid interactions with blonde capuchin monkeys (Sapajus flavius)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this