Mobbing vocalizations as a coping response in the common marmoset

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
N. Cross, L. J. Rogers
Hormones and Behavior
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Using a non-invasive method of sampling saliva followed by assay for cortisol levels, we found that common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) show a decrease in cortisol levels after seeing a snake-model stimulus that reliably elicits mobbing (tsik) calls. In fact, there was a significant positive correlation between the number of tsik vocalizations made and the magnitude of the decrease in the cortisol concentrations. Furthermore, marmosets with higher levels of cortisol prior to being exposed to the stimulus produce more tsik calls than those with lower levels of cortisol. Subsequent experiments showed that, in response to 15 min of isolation with no visual or auditory contact with conspecifics (a traditional stressor), cortisol levels increased significantly. However, playback of the mobbing calls of a familiar conspecific to individual isolated marmosets not only prevented the rise in cortisol, but also actually caused a decrease in the levels of this hormone. This suggests that the mobbing calls serve to calm the marmoset after experiencing a stressful situation. This finding results in a greater understanding as to the role of physiological responses during communication in this species and could have implications for the welfare of marmosets in captivity.


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