Perception of female reproductive state from vocal cues in a mammal species

Semple, S and McComb, K (2000) Perception of female reproductive state from vocal cues in a mammal species. Proceedings B: Biological Sciences, 267 (1444). pp. 707-712. ISSN 1471-2954

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Abstract

While acoustic signalling by males is known to aect male^male competition, mate attraction and the timing of ovulation, the extent to which sexual selection has shaped the evolution of female acoustic signals is poorly understood. Among mammals, experimental evidence indicates that females attract mating partners by using olfactory and visual signals to advertise their reproductive state. Whether or not males ascertain female reproductive state from vocal signals has, however, never been systematically tested. In this study, we use playbacks of recorded vocalizations to demonstrate that male Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus, can discriminate between female copulation calls given at dierent stages of the oestrous cycle, responding more strongly to those given around the time when conception is most likely to occur. Acoustic analysis suggests that the mean dominant frequency of call units and a number of temporal parameters could provide males with the information necessary to discern the proximity of ovulation in this way. Our results provide the rst experimental evidence that the calls of female mammals may contain information on reproductive state, which males can perceive and use in such a way as to increase their reproductive success.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Karen McComb
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:47
Last Modified: 23 May 2012 13:55
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/14451
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