Contexts and possible functions of barking in roe deer

Reby, David, Cargnelutti, B. and Hewison, A. J. M. (1999) Contexts and possible functions of barking in roe deer. Animal Behaviour, 57 (5). pp. 1121-1128. ISSN 00033472

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We studied the barking behaviour of free-ranging roe deer, Capreolus capreolus, in response to disturbance provoked by a human observer and in response to the playback of recorded barks. Three alternative functions of this behaviour were hypothesized: barking is an alarm call, a pursuit-deterrent call or a territorial call. Our observational data showed that, in the presence of a source of disturbance, solitary individuals barked more frequently than deer in groups, suggesting that barking does not serve to warn conspecifics of potential danger, but rather to inform any potential predator that it has been identified. The frequencies of both barking and counterbarking (barking of a second deer in response to tile barks of an initiator) were inversely correlated with ambient luminosity, probably because the assessment of danger is more difficult when visibility is low. Males barked more frequently than females when disturbed. Moreover, when we played back a series of barks from within a buck's territory, this provoked counterbarking or aggressive behaviours rather than flight. Older bucks responded more frequently to playbacks than younger bucks. We suggest that while barking may initially have evolved as a signal to deter predator pursuit, it could play an important, secondary role in the territorial system of this species

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: David Reby
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:40
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2012 12:04
Google Scholar:41 Citations
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