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Ultrasonic courtship vocalizations in wild house mice, Mus musculus musculus


Musolf, K; Hoffmann, F; Penn, D J (2010). Ultrasonic courtship vocalizations in wild house mice, Mus musculus musculus. Animal Behaviour, 79(3):757-764.

Abstract

Adult house mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) that are sexually dimorphic and have features of song. To test whether USVs play a role in sexual courtship, we examined how males produce USVs following exposure to scent from conspecifics of different sexes and ages, and also females’ attraction to recorded playbacks of males’ USVs. We studied wild-derived house mice (F1 from wild-caught Mus musculus musculus) since previous work has almost exclusively been on domesticated strains. Males produced USVs in response to female but not to male or immature female urinary scent, and males responded at a higher rate to urine from novel than familiar females. Males’ prior social experience had no effect on their USV responses to fresh female urine, corroborating studies with laboratory mice. When presented with playbacks, females were more attracted to USVs of novel males, and showed a preference for unfamiliar nonkin versus familiar siblings. Our results support the idea that male USVs function as courtship behaviour to attract mates, and extend several previous findings on laboratory strains to wild house mice. We also show that USVs are highly diverse among males, but further experiments are needed to determine whether these vocalizations play a role in social (individual, sibling or kin) recognition, inbreeding avoidance or other forms of mate choice.

Abstract

Adult house mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) that are sexually dimorphic and have features of song. To test whether USVs play a role in sexual courtship, we examined how males produce USVs following exposure to scent from conspecifics of different sexes and ages, and also females’ attraction to recorded playbacks of males’ USVs. We studied wild-derived house mice (F1 from wild-caught Mus musculus musculus) since previous work has almost exclusively been on domesticated strains. Males produced USVs in response to female but not to male or immature female urinary scent, and males responded at a higher rate to urine from novel than familiar females. Males’ prior social experience had no effect on their USV responses to fresh female urine, corroborating studies with laboratory mice. When presented with playbacks, females were more attracted to USVs of novel males, and showed a preference for unfamiliar nonkin versus familiar siblings. Our results support the idea that male USVs function as courtship behaviour to attract mates, and extend several previous findings on laboratory strains to wild house mice. We also show that USVs are highly diverse among males, but further experiments are needed to determine whether these vocalizations play a role in social (individual, sibling or kin) recognition, inbreeding avoidance or other forms of mate choice.

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56 citations in Web of Science®
60 citations in Scopus®
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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:March 2010
Deposited On:12 Mar 2012 14:07
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 12:09
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.034

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