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The information banded mongooses extract from heterospecific alarms


Müller, C A; Manser, M B (2008). The information banded mongooses extract from heterospecific alarms. Animal Behaviour, 75(3):897-904.

Abstract

Predation is a powerful selective force shaping the behaviour of prey animals. As a consequence, a variety of birds and mammals have developed referential and/or urgency-based alarm call systems. Since antipredator behaviour is likely to be costly, it should pay to attend to warning signals given by other species. Evidence that animals respond to heterospecific alarm calls is abundant. However, studies showing whether animals extract information on predator types or urgency levels from heterospecific alarms are rare. Using playback experiments, we investigated whether banded mongooses, Mungos mungo, respond to alarm calls of several sympatric plover species, Vanellus spp. and how mongooses respond to plover alarms that differ in their level of urgency. Banded mongooses responded to alarm calls of the three plover species tested. Even though the response intensity varied over a large scale, the responses to plover alarms did not differ between calls representing high and low urgency. Our results indicate that banded mongooses use heterospecific alarms for predator avoidance but do not use additional information provided in these signals. How commonly animals attend to and why in some cases animals do not attend to additional information provided by heterospecific alarms remains an open question and deserves further investigation.

Predation is a powerful selective force shaping the behaviour of prey animals. As a consequence, a variety of birds and mammals have developed referential and/or urgency-based alarm call systems. Since antipredator behaviour is likely to be costly, it should pay to attend to warning signals given by other species. Evidence that animals respond to heterospecific alarm calls is abundant. However, studies showing whether animals extract information on predator types or urgency levels from heterospecific alarms are rare. Using playback experiments, we investigated whether banded mongooses, Mungos mungo, respond to alarm calls of several sympatric plover species, Vanellus spp. and how mongooses respond to plover alarms that differ in their level of urgency. Banded mongooses responded to alarm calls of the three plover species tested. Even though the response intensity varied over a large scale, the responses to plover alarms did not differ between calls representing high and low urgency. Our results indicate that banded mongooses use heterospecific alarms for predator avoidance but do not use additional information provided in these signals. How commonly animals attend to and why in some cases animals do not attend to additional information provided by heterospecific alarms remains an open question and deserves further investigation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:antipredator behaviour; banded mongoose; Herpestidae; heterospecific alarming; Mungos mungo; playback; urgency level; vigilance
Language:English
Date:March 2008
Deposited On:11 Apr 2008 07:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:23
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.07.012
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2420

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