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Studying alarm call communication in Meerkats.


Hollén, L; Manser, M (2005). Studying alarm call communication in Meerkats. Cognition, Brain, Behavior, 9(3):525-538.

Abstract

Meerkats (Suricata suricatta), as many other animals, suffer from a high mortality rate due to predation. Any behaviour facilitatingthe avoidance of predators is therefore under strong selection. In addition to a coordinated sentinel system, meerkats have developed a sophisticated alarm call system where the acoustic structure of alarm calls provide listeners with information about both the type of predator approaching and the level of urgency. This allows receivers to respond appropriately to calls emitted in a specific context. Using a combination of behavioural observations and field experiments, our research team has investigated questions regarding alarm call communication in groups of free ranging meerkats in South Africa for the past 10 years. Our aim with this paper is to provide an overview of how we approached the study of alarm call communication. The methods applied may also be used to investigate any other vocal communication.

Meerkats (Suricata suricatta), as many other animals, suffer from a high mortality rate due to predation. Any behaviour facilitatingthe avoidance of predators is therefore under strong selection. In addition to a coordinated sentinel system, meerkats have developed a sophisticated alarm call system where the acoustic structure of alarm calls provide listeners with information about both the type of predator approaching and the level of urgency. This allows receivers to respond appropriately to calls emitted in a specific context. Using a combination of behavioural observations and field experiments, our research team has investigated questions regarding alarm call communication in groups of free ranging meerkats in South Africa for the past 10 years. Our aim with this paper is to provide an overview of how we approached the study of alarm call communication. The methods applied may also be used to investigate any other vocal communication.

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)
Language:English
Date:2005
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:14
Publisher:Romanian Association of Cognitive Sciences
ISSN:1224-8398

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