Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Discrete call types referring to predation risk enhance the efficiency of the meerkat sentinel system


Rauber, R; Manser, M B (2017). Discrete call types referring to predation risk enhance the efficiency of the meerkat sentinel system. Scientific Reports, 7:44436.

Abstract

Sentinel behaviour, a form of coordinated vigilance, occurs in a limited range of species, mostly in cooperative breeders. In some species sentinels confirm their presence vocally by giving a single sentinel call type, whereby the rate and subtle acoustic changes provide graded information on the variation of perceived predation risk. In contrast, meerkat (Suricata suricatta) sentinels produce six different sentinel call types. Here we show that manipulation of perception of danger has different effects on the likelihood of emitting these different call types, and that these call types affect foraging individuals differently. Increasing the perceived predation risk by playing back alarm calls decreased the production rate of the common short note calls and increased the production rate of the rare long calls. Playbacks of short note calls increased foraging behaviour and decreased vigilance in the rest of the group, whereas the opposite was observed when playing long calls. This suggests that the common call types act as all-clear signals, while the rare call types have a warning function. Therefore, meerkats increase the efficiency of their sentinel system by producing several discrete call types that represent changes in predation risk and lead to adjustments of the group’s vigilance behaviour.

Abstract

Sentinel behaviour, a form of coordinated vigilance, occurs in a limited range of species, mostly in cooperative breeders. In some species sentinels confirm their presence vocally by giving a single sentinel call type, whereby the rate and subtle acoustic changes provide graded information on the variation of perceived predation risk. In contrast, meerkat (Suricata suricatta) sentinels produce six different sentinel call types. Here we show that manipulation of perception of danger has different effects on the likelihood of emitting these different call types, and that these call types affect foraging individuals differently. Increasing the perceived predation risk by playing back alarm calls decreased the production rate of the common short note calls and increased the production rate of the rare long calls. Playbacks of short note calls increased foraging behaviour and decreased vigilance in the rest of the group, whereas the opposite was observed when playing long calls. This suggests that the common call types act as all-clear signals, while the rare call types have a warning function. Therefore, meerkats increase the efficiency of their sentinel system by producing several discrete call types that represent changes in predation risk and lead to adjustments of the group’s vigilance behaviour.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics

Altmetrics

Downloads

4 downloads since deposited on 19 Jan 2018
4 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

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)
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:19 Jan 2018 08:36
Last Modified:18 Apr 2018 11:49
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
Funders:UZH, Claraz Foundation, ERC 294494 to T.H. Clutton-Brock
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/srep44436

Download

Download PDF  'Discrete call types referring to predation risk enhance the efficiency of the meerkat sentinel system'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 723kB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)