Do red deer stags (Cervus elaphus) use roar fundamental frequency (F0) to assess rivals?

Garcia, Maxime, Charlton, Benjamin D, Wyman, Megan T, Fitch, W Tecumseh and Reby, David (2013) Do red deer stags (Cervus elaphus) use roar fundamental frequency (F0) to assess rivals? PLoS ONE, 8 (12). e83946. ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

It is well established that in humans, male voices are disproportionately lower pitched than female voices, and recent studies suggest that this dimorphism in fundamental frequency (F0) results from both intrasexual (male competition) and intersexual (female mate choice) selection for lower pitched voices in men. However, comparative investigations indicate that sexual dimorphism in F0 is not universal in terrestrial mammals. In the highly polygynous and sexually dimorphic Scottish red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus, more successful males give sexually-selected calls (roars) with higher minimum F0s, suggesting that high, rather than low F0s advertise quality in this subspecies. While playback experiments demonstrated that oestrous females prefer higher pitched roars, the potential role of roar F0 in male competition remains untested. Here we examined the response of rutting red deer stags to playbacks of re-synthesized male roars with different median F0s. Our results show that stags’ responses (latencies and durations of attention, vocal and approach responses) were not affected by the F0 of the roar. This suggests that intrasexual selection is unlikely to strongly influence the evolution of roar F0 in Scottish red deer stags, and illustrates how the F0 of terrestrial mammal vocal sexual signals may be subject to different selection pressures across species. Further investigations on species characterized by different F0 profiles are needed to provide a comparative background for evolutionary interpretations of sex differences in mammalian vocalizations.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: David Reby
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2014 12:12
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2017 03:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/50629

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