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Manser, M B (2001). The acoustic structure of suricates' alarm calls varies with predator type and the level of response urgency. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 268(1483):2315-2324.

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The variation in the acoustic structure of alarm calls appears to convey information about the level of response urgency in some species, while in others it seems to denote the type of predator. While theoretical models and studies on species with functionally referential calls have emphasized that any animal signal considered to have an external referent also includes motivational content, to our knowledge, no empirical study has been able to show this. In this paper, I present an example of a graded alarm call system that combines referential information and also information on the level of urgency. Acoustically different alarm calls in the social mongoose Suricata suricatta are given in response to different predator types, but their call structure also varies depending on the level of urgency. Low urgency calls tend to be harmonic across all predator types, while high urgency calls are noisier. There was less evidence for consistency in the acoustic parameters assigned to particular predator types across different levels of urgency. This suggests that, while suricates convey information about the level of urgency along a general rule, the referential information about each category of predator type is not encoded in an obvious way.


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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:13
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:13
Publisher:Royal Society of London
Publisher DOI:10.1098/rspb.2001.1773
PubMed ID:11703871

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