Roaring and social communication in African lions: the limitations imposed by listeners.

Grinnell, Jon and McComb, Karen (2001) Roaring and social communication in African lions: the limitations imposed by listeners. Animal Behaviour, 62. pp. 93-98. ISSN 0003-3472

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Abstract

In some social mammals, loud calling not only serves to advertise ownership of a territory and attract mates but also plays a vital role in allowing social companions to maintain contact when they are separated by long distances. Under these circumstances, individuals that are not territory owners but that call in the context of social cohesion or mate attraction could risk inviting escalated contests from territorial competitors. Here we present observations and playback experiments demonstrating that nomadic male lions (Panthera leo) do not roar despite the likely importance of roaring in maintaining social ties with other males in their coalition, on which their subsequent reproductive success depends. Instead, roaring is confined to males that are resident in prides and prepared to escalate in contest situations. Roaring is a flexible behaviour that is sensitive to temporal changes in status; resident males remain silent outside of their territories even when presented with playbacks of unfamiliar males roaring, and nomadic males start roaring only when they are taking over a pride. Our study suggests that individuals of social species may avoid givingimportant long-distance signals in circumstances where it would pay them to conceal their presence from eavesdroppers.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Karen McComb
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:43
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2012 13:39
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/14084
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