Navigation Links
Fight or flight? Vocal cues help deer decide during mating season
Date:2/9/2014

Previous studies have shown that male fallow deer, known as bucks, can call for a mate more than 3000 times per hour during the rut (peak of the mating season), and their efforts in calling, fighting and mating can leave them sounding hoarse.

In this new study, published today (10 February) in the journal Behavioral Ecology, scientists were able to gauge that fallow bucks listen to the sound quality of rival males' calls and evaluate how exhausted the caller is and whether they should fight or keep their distance.

"Fallow bucks are among the most impressive vocal athletes of all deer and invest a large amount of time and energy in calling," explained Dr Benjamin Pitcher from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

During the mating season, fallow bucks produce a call or groan, both to attract mates, and repel competing males. Groans contain numerous clues about each animal, such as their size and status in the herd. The researchers set up a series of playback experiments to investigate how the bucks responded to changes in calling rates and vocal fatigue in the groans of their rivals.

"Until recently we have known relatively little about who is listening to their calling, and what information they are hearing," commented Dr Alan McElligott, also from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

The scientists played slow and fast rate groaning sounds, as well as groans from early in the rut, and ones from late in the rut (when bucks are tired), to mature male deer in Petworth Park, West Sussex during the peak of the mating season. The speakers were hidden from view and scientists measured how long it took for the deer to react to the calls, as well as their orientation, posture, and calls they made in response.

The deer were more responsive to fast rate groans than to slow rate groans indicating that bucks signal their motivation or aggressiveness in how quickly they call. The bucks also recognised groans from early in the rut, recorded before callers became tired, as more threatening than groans recorded later in the rut. This shows that bucks can detect when rivals are becoming fatigued and that exhausted males pose less of a threat.

Dr Pitcher added: "We know from this recent study that by detecting changes in calls, bucks are able to judge which rival is most vulnerable to be challenged and when to fight."

It's known that male deer largely stop feeding and lose more than a quarter* of their body weight while they focus on finding mates, so vocal fatigue seems to be an important indicator as to which male deer have become worn out over the course of the breeding season.

"These results help us to understand how vocalisations and behaviours associated with mating have evolved," said Dr McElligott.

"The findings demonstrate how sexual selection has shaped the vocal behaviour and communication system of fallow deer. We see this trend with other mammals that have similar vocal systems, such as sea lions. The study helps to develop an understanding of how competing for, and attracting mates, has influenced the evolution of communication systems, including human speech."


'/>"/>
Contact: Neha Okhandiar
n.okhandiar@qmul.ac.uk
020-788-27927
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. How a shape-shifting DNA-repair machine fights cancer
2. Secrets of potato blight evolution could help farmers fight back
3. Does it pay to be a lover or a fighter? It depends on how you woo females
4. Ph.D. students in India, Ethiopia and Kenya to fight wheat stripe rust
5. Fighting flies
6. New strategy emerges for fighting drug-resistant malaria
7. Research uncovers key difference between our bodies fight against viruses and bacteria
8. Marine bacteria to fight tough infections
9. Tiny acts of microbe justice help reveal how nature fights freeloaders
10. Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis and malaria
11. Plant used in Chinese medicine fights chronic pain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Fight or flight? Vocal cues help deer decide during mating season
(Date:11/15/2016)... 15, 2016  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: ... on the gut microbiome, today announced the pricing ... of its common stock and warrants to purchase ... price to the public of $1.00 per share ... from the offering, excluding the proceeds, if any ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... , Nov. 14, 2016  Based on ... market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes FST Biometrics ... Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. FST Biometrics ... biometric identification market by pioneering In Motion ... for instant, seamless, and non-invasive verification. This ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016   Acuant , ... verification solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ® ... for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and Continuous ... that add functional enhancements to existing physical ... and venues with an automated ID verification ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... -- Eurofins announces the appointment of Sean Murray , National ... (ESI). Mr. Murray will bring valuable expertise to ... in leading international business teams. As the National Division Leader, he ... Eurofins, status as the global leader in bio-analytical testing services. ... , , ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016  Anaconda BioMed S.L., a pre-clinical stage ... next generation neuro-thrombectomy system for the treatment of Acute ... Jovin, MD to join its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). ... network of scientific and clinical experts to Anaconda BioMed ... ANCD BRAIN ® to its clinical phase. The ...
(Date:12/8/2016)...  Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the ... and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where ... the long-term follow-up data from its Phase 2 ... Defense Regulator (IDR), in the treatment of oral ... undergoing chemoradiation therapy (CRT).  The additional 12-month safety ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Partnering to fuel ... Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania ... ("IHG"), the parent company of Independence Blue Cross; and ... announced their intentions for a $6 million funding initiative ... healthcare startups. Responding to a burgeoning economic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: