Vocal cues indicate level of arousal in infant African elephant roars

Stoeger, Angela S, Charlton, Benjamin D, Kratochvil, Helmut and Fitch, W Tecumseh (2011) Vocal cues indicate level of arousal in infant African elephant roars. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130 (3). pp. 1700-1710. ISSN 0001-4966

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Abstract

Arousal-based physiological changes influence acoustic features of vocalizations in mammals. In particular, nonlinear phenomena are thought to convey information about the caller’s arousal state. This hypothesis was tested in the infant African elephant (Loxodonta africana) roar, a call type produced in situations of arousal and distress. Ninety-two percent of roars exhibited nonlinear phenomena, with chaos being the most common type. Acoustic irregularities were strongly associated with elevated fundamental frequency values. Roars produced in situations of highest urgency, based on the occurrence of behavioral indicators of arousal, were characterized by the lowest harmonics-to-noise ratio; this indicates low tonality. In addition, roars produced in these situations lasted longer than those produced in contexts of lower presumed urgency. Testing the infant roars for individual distinctiveness revealed only a moderate classification result. Combined, these findings indicate that infant African elephant roars primarily function to signal the caller’s arousal state. The effective communication of this type of information may allow mothers to respond differentially based on their infant’s degree of need and may be crucial for the survival of infant African elephants in their natural environment

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: Benjamin Charlton
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2012 09:38
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2012 11:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41885
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