Individual variation in the contact calls of the monomorphic Peach-fronted Conure, Aratinga aurea, and its potential role in communication

In several avian and mammal social species, contact calls are hypothesized to function in maintaining group cohesion, coordinating activities between group members and negotiating fissions and fusions of multiple groups during foraging and roosting. They are therefore expected to exhibit acoustic features that make them suitable for communication of identity information. We investigated this in the monomorphic Peach-fronted Conure, a tropical parakeet living in open forest and scrubland habitats. The species is highly social outside the breeding season where it is assumed to live in a fission–fusion social system. In this study, contact calls from 10 visually isolated male and female Peach-fronted Conures were recorded outside the breeding season. Results from the multivariate analysis of variance and spectrographic cross-correlation with principal coordinates analysis procedure showed that contact calls varied highly between individuals and indicated that caller identity could be encoded in the duration, peak frequency, max frequency and 25%, 50% and 75% frequency energy quartiles of contact calls. The 50% frequency and 75% energy quartile was also significantly higher for females than for males. Furthermore, the results showed an inverse relationship between two morphometric measures and two spectral parameters, suggesting that variation in call parameters could also allow receivers to obtain information about the body size of the caller. Discriminant function analysis showed that contact calls could be correctly classified to individuals in 100% and to sexes in 91% of the cases, suggesting that there is sufficient variation in contact call parameters to enable vocal recognition of individuals and sex.