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Signals of need in a cooperatively breeding mammal with mobile offspring


Manser, M B; Madden, J R; Kunc, P; English, S; Clutton-Brock, T (2008). Signals of need in a cooperatively breeding mammal with mobile offspring. Animal Behaviour, 76(6):1805-1813.

Abstract

In many bird species with biparental care for young in the nest, hungry chicks beg repeatedly, and parents adjust their feeding rate to the call rate of young. Repetitive calling also occurs in fledglings and in some mammals where offspring follow provisioners. It is not yet clear whether, in mobile systems with dispersed young where adults cannot compare the vocal behaviour of all young simultaneously, the calls represent a signal of need. We investigated repetitive begging by cooperatively reared meerkat (Suricata suricatta) pups that foraged with the group. Pups produced two types of begging calls: repeat calls over long periods and high- pitched calls mainly confined to feeding events. Food-deprived pups stayed closer to feeders, and begged longer and more intensely by calling at a higher rate. Hungry pups increased both the rate of repeat calls, and the number of high-pitched bouts, but adults increased their food allocation only in relation to the rate of repeat ca
lls. Our study indicates that hunger may lead to several changes in vocal behaviour, yet only some of which may be used by adults to assess need.

Abstract

In many bird species with biparental care for young in the nest, hungry chicks beg repeatedly, and parents adjust their feeding rate to the call rate of young. Repetitive calling also occurs in fledglings and in some mammals where offspring follow provisioners. It is not yet clear whether, in mobile systems with dispersed young where adults cannot compare the vocal behaviour of all young simultaneously, the calls represent a signal of need. We investigated repetitive begging by cooperatively reared meerkat (Suricata suricatta) pups that foraged with the group. Pups produced two types of begging calls: repeat calls over long periods and high- pitched calls mainly confined to feeding events. Food-deprived pups stayed closer to feeders, and begged longer and more intensely by calling at a higher rate. Hungry pups increased both the rate of repeat calls, and the number of high-pitched bouts, but adults increased their food allocation only in relation to the rate of repeat ca
lls. Our study indicates that hunger may lead to several changes in vocal behaviour, yet only some of which may be used by adults to assess need.

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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:begging, call rate, cooperative breeders, meerkats, mobile begging system, signal of need, suricata suricatta
Language:English
Date:December 2008
Deposited On:15 Dec 2008 09:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:42
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.027

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