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The potential to encode sex, age, and individual identity in the alarm calls of three species of Marmotinae.

  • Author(s): Matrosova, Vera A
  • Blumstein, Daniel T
  • Volodin, Ilya A
  • Volodina, Elena V
  • et al.
Abstract

In addition to encoding referential information and information about the sender's motivation, mammalian alarm calls may encode information about other attributes of the sender, providing the potential for recognition among kin, mates, and neighbors. Here, we examined 96 speckled ground squirrels (Spermophilus suslicus), 100 yellow ground squirrels (Spermophilus fulvus) and 85 yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) to determine whether their alarm calls differed between species in their ability to encode information about the caller's sex, age, and identity. Alarm calls were elicited by approaching individually identified animals in live-traps. We assume this experimental design modeled a naturally occurring predatory event, when receivers should acquire information about attributes of a caller from a single bout of alarm calls. In each species, variation that allows identification of the caller's identity was greater than variation allowing identification of age or sex. We discuss these results in relation to each species' biology and sociality.

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