Response of red deer stags (cervus elaphus) to playback of harsh versus common roars

Garcia, Maxime, Wyman, Megan T, Charlton, Benjamin D, Tecumseh Fitch, W and Reby, David (2014) Response of red deer stags (cervus elaphus) to playback of harsh versus common roars. Naturwissenschaften, 101 (10). pp. 851-854. ISSN 0028-1042

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Red deer stags (Cervus elaphus) give two distinct types of roars during the breeding season, the “common roar” and the “harsh roar.” Harsh roars are more frequent during contexts of intense competition, and characterized by a set of features that increase their perceptual salience, suggesting that they signal heightened arousal. While common roars have been shown to encode size information and mediate both male competition and female choice, to our knowledge, the specific function of harsh roars during male competition has not yet been studied. Here, we investigate the hypothesis that the specific structure of male harsh roars signals high arousal to competitors. We contrast the behavioral responses of free ranging, harem-holding stags to the playback of harsh roars from an unfamiliar competitor with their response to the playback of common roars from the same animal. We show that males react less strongly to sequences of harsh roars than to sequences of common roars, possibly because they are reluctant to escalate conflicts with highly motivated and threatening unfamiliar males in the absence of visual information. While future work should investigate the response of stags to harsh roars from familiar opponents, our observations remain consistent with the hypothesis that harsh roars may signal motivation during male competition, and illustrate how intrasexual selection can contribute to the diversification of male vocal signals.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: David Reby
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2014 13:02
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 22:15

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