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Begging Signals in a Mobile Feeding System: The Evolution of Different Call Types


Kunc, H P; Madden, J R; Manser, M B (2007). Begging Signals in a Mobile Feeding System: The Evolution of Different Call Types. American Naturalist, 170(4):617-624.

Abstract

In some species, dependent offspring join foraging providers and beg for food. Mobile offspring might benefit from evolving begging signals adapted to the different situations they are exposed too, but this possibility has been ignored. In cooperatively breeding meerkats (Suricata suricatta), dependent offspring use a repertoire of several begging calls when joining foraging adults. We found that these calls can be differentiated on the basis of their acoustic structure, and that pups adjusted the use of specific call types according to the social context. Pups continuously gave “repeat” calls when they accompanied foraging adults, and playback of these calls increased provisioning by the adults. When pups saw adults with food, they switched from “repeat calls” to vigorous “high-pitched calls”; adults preferred to feed loudspeakers broadcasting high-pitched calls rather then loudspeakers broadcasting repeat calls. The elaboration of different begging calls might reflect an adaptation to a situation where dependent young must solicit food from potential feeders whilst at the same time directing feeders to bring the prey item to themselves and not to another begging pup. Here we show that mobile but dependent offspring adapt to different contexts in a mobile feeding system by using a repertoire of begging calls.

Abstract

In some species, dependent offspring join foraging providers and beg for food. Mobile offspring might benefit from evolving begging signals adapted to the different situations they are exposed too, but this possibility has been ignored. In cooperatively breeding meerkats (Suricata suricatta), dependent offspring use a repertoire of several begging calls when joining foraging adults. We found that these calls can be differentiated on the basis of their acoustic structure, and that pups adjusted the use of specific call types according to the social context. Pups continuously gave “repeat” calls when they accompanied foraging adults, and playback of these calls increased provisioning by the adults. When pups saw adults with food, they switched from “repeat calls” to vigorous “high-pitched calls”; adults preferred to feed loudspeakers broadcasting high-pitched calls rather then loudspeakers broadcasting repeat calls. The elaboration of different begging calls might reflect an adaptation to a situation where dependent young must solicit food from potential feeders whilst at the same time directing feeders to bring the prey item to themselves and not to another begging pup. Here we show that mobile but dependent offspring adapt to different contexts in a mobile feeding system by using a repertoire of begging calls.

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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)
Language:English
Date:October 2007
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:14
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 12:44
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
Additional Information:© 2007 by American Naturalist
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/521233

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