Species Diversity Among Galagos with Special Reference to Mate Recognition

  • Simon K. Bearder
  • Paul E. Honess
  • Lesley Ambrose


This paper argues that the number of species of nocturnal primates has been seriously underestimated. It has been traditional to separate species largely on the basis of the physical characteristics of museum specimens. This is satisfactory when the animals’ themselves recognize one another by sight, as in the majority of birds and day-living primates, but where scent and sound play the predominant role in male-female recognition, species boundaries can easily be overlooked. As Tinbergen has pointed out, closely related species do not ordinarily interbreed because: ‘the various signals serving attraction, persuasion, appeasement, and synchronisation, are so very different from one species to another.’ (Tinbergen, 1953, p.36). Here we use one conspicuous element in the communication system of galagos, which are all nocturnal, to demonstrate that similarlooking populations frequently belong to different species which have yet to be investigated.


Tape Recording Museum Specimen Loud Call Vocal Repertoire Unpublished Master Dissertation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, R.D. (1968). Arthropods. In T.A. Seboek (Ed.), Animal Communication (pp. 167–216). London: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bearder, S.K. (1987), Lorises, bushbabies and tarsiers: Diverse societies in solitary foragers. In D. Cheney, R. Seyfarth, B. Smuts, T. Struhsaker, R. Wrangham (Eds.), Primate Societies (pp. 11–24). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, W.M., Prager, E.M., Wang, A. & Wilson, A.C. (1982). Mitochondrial DNA sequences of primates: tempo and mode of evolution, Journal of Molecular Evolution, 18, 225–239.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Charles-Dominique, P.(1977). Ecology and Behaviour of the Nocturnal Primates. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  5. Corder, R.F. (1989). The Taxonomic Status of Dwarf Galagos (Galagoides): A Preliminary Analysis on the basis of Vocalisation and Morphological Data. Unpublished masters dissertation, Durham University (Great Britain).Google Scholar
  6. Courtenay, D.O. & Bearder, S.K. (1989). The taxonomic status of bushbabies in Malawi with emphasis on the significance of vocalisations. International Journal of Primatology, 10, 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crompton, R.H., 1989, Mechanisms for speciation in Galago and Tarsius. Human Evolution, 4, 105–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crouse, K.E. (1988). The Distribution and Taxonomic Status of a Small Southern Tanzanian Galago (Primates: Galagidae). Unpublished masters dissertation, Oxford University (Great Britain).Google Scholar
  9. Dixson, A.F. (1989). Effects of sexual selection upon the genitalia and copulatory behavior in male galagos, International Journal of Primatology, 10, 47–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Evans, E.F. (1982). Basic principles and psychophysics of sound, In H.B. Barlow & J.D. Mollon (Eds.), The Senses (pp. 239–250). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gautier, J-P. (1988). Interspecific affinities among guenons as deduced from vocalisations. In A. Gautier -Hion (Eds.), A Primate Radiation — Evolutionary Biology of the African Guenons (pp. 194–226). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Groves, C.P.(1974). Taxonomy and phylogeny of prosimians, In R.D. Martin, G.A. Doyle & A.C. Walker (Eds.), Prosimian Biology. London, Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hillis, D.M. & Moritz, C. (eds.) (1990), Molecular Systematics. Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  14. Izard, K. & Nash, L.T. (1989). Contrasting reproductive parameters in Galago senegalensis braccatus and G. s. moholi. International Journal of Primatology, 9, 519–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lanyon, W.E., 1969, Vocal characters and avian systematics. (pp.291–310) In R.A. Hinde (Ed.), Bird Vocalizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Lawrence, B. & Washburn, S.L. (1936). On a new race of Galago demidovii. Occasional Papers Boston Society of Natural History, 8, 255–266.Google Scholar
  17. Liebermann, P. (1984). The Biology and Evolution of Language. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Littlejohn, M.S. & Oldham, R.S. (1968). Rana pipens complex: Mating call structure and taxonomy. Science, 62, 1003–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marler, P. (1975). Specific distinctiveness in the communication signals of birds. Behaviour, 11, 13–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Masters, J.C. & Spencer, H.G. (1989). Why we need a new genetic species concept. Systematic Zoology, 38, 270–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Masters, J.C. (1993). Primates and paradigms: Problems with the identification of genetic species. (pp. 43–64) In W.H. Kimbel & L.B. Martin (Eds.), Species, Species Concepts, and Primate Evolution. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  22. Nash, L.T., Bearder, S.K. & Olson, T. (1989). A synoptic overview of galago species differences, International Journal of Primatology, 8, 45–53.Google Scholar
  23. Oates, J.F. & Trocco, T.F. (1983). Taxonomy and phylogeny of black and white colobus monkeys. Inferences from an analysis of loud call variation. Folia Primatologica, 40, 83–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Olson, T.R. (1979). Studies on Aspects of the Morphology of the Genus Otolemur Coquerel, 1859. Doctoral Dissertation, University of London, (Great Britain). Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.Google Scholar
  25. Paabo, S. (1989). Ancient DNA: extraction, characterization, molecular cloning and enzymatic amplitïcation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 86, 1939–1943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Paterson, H.E.H. (1985). The recognition concept of species. In E.S. Vrba (Ed.), Species and speciation (pp. 21–29). Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.Google Scholar
  27. Petter, J-J. & Charles-Dominique, P.(1979). Vocal communication in prosimians, In G.A. Doyle & R.D. Martin (Eds.), The Study of Prosimian Behaviour. (pp. 247–305). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ralin, D.B. (1977). Evolutionary aspects of mating call variation in a diploid-tetraploid species complex of tree frogs (Anura). Evolution, 31, 721–736.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stanger, K.F. (1993). Structure and Function of the Vocalisations ofNocturnal Prosimians (Cheirogaleidae). Doctoral dissertation,University of Tubingen. Tubingen: Hans-Joachim Kohler.Google Scholar
  30. Tattersall, I. (1989). The roles of ecological and behavioural observation in species recognition among primates. Human Evolution, 4, 117–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thomas, W.K., Paabo, S., Villablanca, F.X. & Wilson, A.C. (1990). Spatial and temporal continuity of kangaroo rat populations shown by sequencing mitochondrial DNA from museum specimens, Journal of Molecular Evolution, 31, 565–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Thomas, O. & Wroughton, R.C. (1908). The Rudd Exploration of South Africa IX. Proceedings of the zoological Society of London, 1908, 164–173.Google Scholar
  33. Tinbergen, N. (1953). Social Behaviour in Animals. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  34. Toms, R.B. (1993). Incidental effects and evolution of sound producing organs in tree crickets (Ortthoptera: Oecanthidae). International Journal of Insect Morphology and Embryology, 22, 207–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vbra, E.S. (Ed.) (1985). Species and Speciation. Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.Google Scholar
  36. Walker, T.J. (1962). Factors responsible for intraspecific variation in the calling songs of crickets. Evolution, 16, 407–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zimmermann, A. (1985). Analysesystem fur NF-Signale, CAL, 1, 53–55.Google Scholar
  38. Zimmermann, E. (1985). The vocal repertoire of the adult senegal bushbaby (Galago senegalensis senegalensis). Behaviour, 94, 212–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zimmermann, E. (1990). Differentiation of vocalisations in bushbabies (Galaginae, Prosimiae, Primates) and the significance for assessing phylogenetic relationships, Journal of zoolical Systematics and Evolution, 28, 217–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zimmermann, E., Bearder, S.K., Doyle, G.A. & Andersson, A.B. (1988). Variations in vocal patterns of Lesser bushbabies (Galago senegalensis and Galago moholi) and their implications for taxonomic relationships. Folia Primatologica, 51, 87–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon K. Bearder
    • 1
  • Paul E. Honess
    • 1
  • Lesley Ambrose
    • 1
  1. 1.Anthropology Unit, Department of Social SciencesOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations