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Does the grey mouse lemur use agonistic vocalizations to recognise kin?

Kessler, Sharon E. and Radespiel, Ute and Hasiniaina, Alida I. F. and Nash, Leanne T. and Zimmermann, Elke (2018) 'Does the grey mouse lemur use agonistic vocalizations to recognise kin?', Contributions to zoology., 87 (4). pp. 261-274.


Frequent kin-biased coalitionary behaviour is a hallmark of mammalian social complexity. Furthermore, selection to understand complex social dynamics is believed to underlie the co-evolution of social complexity and large brains. Vocalisations have been shown to be an important mechanism with which large-brained mammals living in complex social groups recognise and recruit kin for coalitionary support during agonistic conflicts. We test whether kin recognition via agonistic calls occurs in a small-brained solitary foraging primate living in a dispersed social network, the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus, Miller JF, 1777). As mouse lemurs are frequent models for ancestral solitary foraging mammals, this study examines whether kin recognition via agonistic calls could be the foundation from which more complex, kin-based coalitionary behaviour evolved. We test whether female wild mouse lemurs in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar, react differently to agonistic calls from kin and nonkin and to calls from familiar and unfamiliar individuals during playback experiments. Subjects showed no significant differences in reactions to the different stimuli; thus they did not react differently based upon kinship or familiarity. Results suggest that this solitary foraging species does not use agonistic calls to recognise kin and monitor agonistic interactions involving kin, unlike several species of Old World monkeys and hyenas. Thus, kin recognition via agonistic calls may have evolved independently in these lineages in parallel with greater social complexity and frequent coalitionary behaviour.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article has been published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Date accepted:26 October 2018
Date deposited:30 October 2018
Date of first online publication:30 November 2018
Date first made open access:No date available

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