Communication of male quality in owl hoots.

Hardouin, Loïc A, Reby, David, Bavoux, Christian, Burneleau, Guy and Bretagnolle, Vincent (2007) Communication of male quality in owl hoots. American Naturalist, 169 (4). pp. 552-562. ISSN 0003-0147

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The evolution of communication through intrasexual selection is expected to lead signalers to transmit honest information on their fighting ability. Here we studied the information encoded in the acoustic structure of the territorial calls of a nocturnal raptor. During territorial contests, male scops owls give hoots composed of a downward frequency shift followed by a stable plateau. We found that the frequency of the hoot was negatively correlated with the body weight of the vocalizer. We shifted the frequency contour of natural hoots in order to create re-synthesized calls corresponding to individuals of varying body weight, and used these stimuli in playback experiments simulating an intrusion into the territory of established breeders. Territory owners responded less intensely when played hoots simulating heavier intruders, and males with heavier apparent weight tended to give hoots with a lower plateau in response to playbacks simulating heavier intruders.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Senior Author. Reby supervised Hardouin (PhD Marie Curie Fellow). Reby came up with the idea and the design of the playback experiment, designed the stimulus re-synthesis procedure, and wrote most of the manuscript. The first two authors contributed equally, the others had minor roles.
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: David Reby
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:49
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2012 16:58
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