Predation experiments on infant spectral tarsiers (Tarsius spectrum). Conference Paper uri icon


  • In this paper, I investigate how mother and infant spectral tarsiers, Tarsius spectrum, respond to the presence of potential predators. I conducted this study at Tangkoko Nature Reserve in Sulawesi, Indonesia, from June to November 1999. I exposed 2 infants to 3 types of potential predators (large models of birds of prey, large rubber snakes and the vocalizations of large birds of prey) for a total of 18 nights. Infants moved a greater distance from their parked location when exposed to rubber snakes (1.8 m) compared to nights when they were not exposed to potential predators (0.23 m). On the other hand, when large bird of prey models were placed near the parked infant, the infant did not move from its parked locale (0.05 m). Parked infants repeatedly gave alarm calls in response to the presentation of all potential predator types. When an infant produced an alarm call following the presentation of a potential predator, the mother responded with her own alarm call approximately 88% of the time. However, when an infant produced an inappropriate alarm call, the mother responded with her own alarm call only 19% of the time. These results suggest that spectral tarsier infants use alarm calls to ask questions about the things they encounter in their environment. Infants and mothers both produced a twittering alarm call in response to the bird of prey models, whereas they both produced a harsh loud call 3 times in rapid succession in response to the presence of the rubber snakes.

published proceedings

  • Folia Primatol (Basel)

author list (cited authors)

  • Gursky, S.

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Gursky, Sharon

publication date

  • February 2003