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The audience effect in a facultatively social mammal, the yellow mongoose, Cynictis penicillata


Le Roux, A; Cherry, M I; Manser, M B (2008). The audience effect in a facultatively social mammal, the yellow mongoose, Cynictis penicillata. Animal Behaviour, 75(3):943-949.

Abstract

The audience effect has been shown in numerous group-living vertebrates but whether it is present in facultatively social species is unknown. We investigated the antipredator responses of the yellow mongoose, a mammal that dens in groups but primarily forages alone. To examine the effect that the social environment has on their communication, we performed a combination of field observations and experiments with live and model predators on a habituated population of mongooses. Social context affected both the communicative and the flight behaviour of yellow mongooses. Alarm vocalizations were used almost exclusively when individuals were in a group rather than solitary. The visual alarm signal, a raised tail, was predominantly used by solitary individuals when predators were outside attack range. This study apparently is the first to show an audience effect in a facultatively social mammal, suggesting that even rare social interactions lead to the ability to respond flexibly to predators depending on the presence or absence of conspecifics.

The audience effect has been shown in numerous group-living vertebrates but whether it is present in facultatively social species is unknown. We investigated the antipredator responses of the yellow mongoose, a mammal that dens in groups but primarily forages alone. To examine the effect that the social environment has on their communication, we performed a combination of field observations and experiments with live and model predators on a habituated population of mongooses. Social context affected both the communicative and the flight behaviour of yellow mongooses. Alarm vocalizations were used almost exclusively when individuals were in a group rather than solitary. The visual alarm signal, a raised tail, was predominantly used by solitary individuals when predators were outside attack range. This study apparently is the first to show an audience effect in a facultatively social mammal, suggesting that even rare social interactions lead to the ability to respond flexibly to predators depending on the presence or absence of conspecifics.

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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:alarm signals, audience, communication, Cynictis penicillata, sociality, yellow mongoose
Language:English
Date:March 2008
Deposited On:11 Apr 2008 07:43
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:23
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.07.014
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2421

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