Contact calls of the northern and southern white rhinoceros allow for individual and species identification.
ABSTRACT: Inter-individual relationships particularly in socially living mammals often require a well-developed communication system. Vocal and olfactory signals are the most important for the communication of rhinos, however, their vocal communication has been investigated to a very limited extent so far. White rhinos have the most developed social system out of all the rhinoceros species and vocal signals might therefore play an important role in their social interactions. We recorded repetitive contact pant calls from six captive northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium cottoni) and 14 captive and free-ranging southern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) and examined if they transmit information about individual identity, species, social context and age class. Discriminant analyses revealed that a high percentage of the pant calls of both species could be classified to a correct individual. We calculated signature information capacity of pant calls recorded from adult animals in isolation at 3.19 bits for the northern white rhinos and at 3.15 bits for the southern white rhinos, which can potentially allow for a vocal discrimination of nine individuals of both species. We found that pant calls varied by species. Northern white rhinos had longer calls and also differed from the southern white rhinos in several frequency parameters of their calls. We also analysed the pant calls of southern white rhinos for the differences between the age classes and between social contexts in which they were recorded. Our results show that pant calls carry information about individual, species, age class and context. The ability to recognize this information would allow rhinos, in addition to olfactory cues, to communicate with highly increased accuracy. A better understanding of communication of white rhinos has potential practical use in their management and conservation particularly because of the low breeding success of white rhinos in captivity.
Project description:Vocal communication networks can be linked to social behaviour, allowing a deeper understanding of social relationships among individuals. For this purpose, the description of vocal dyads is fundamental. In group-living species, this identification is based on behavioural indicators which require a high level of reactivity during social interactions. In the present study, we alternatively established a proximity-based approach to investigate whether sex-specific differences in vocal communication reflect social behaviour in a species with rather loose social associations and low levels of reactivity: the Southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum). We performed audio- and video recordings of 30 captive animals from seven groups. Vocal networks for the four most common call types were constructed by considering conspecifics at close distance (??1 body length) to the sender as potential receivers. The analysis of the resulting unidirectional structures showed that not only the sex of the sender but also the sex of the potential receiver, the quality of social interactions (affiliative or agonistic) as well as association strength predict the intensity of vocal interactions between group members. Thus, a proximity-based approach can be used to construct vocal networks providing information about the social relationships of conspecifics-even in species with loose social associations where behavioural indicators are limited.
Project description:Describing vocal repertoires represents an essential step towards gaining an overview about the complexity of acoustic communication in a given species. The analysis of infant vocalisations is essential for understanding the development and usage of species-specific vocalisations, but is often underrepresented, especially in species with long inter-birth intervals such as the white rhinoceros. Thus, this study aimed for the first time to characterise the infant and juvenile vocal repertoire of the Southern white rhinoceros and to relate these findings to the adult vocal repertoire. The behaviour of seven mother-reared white rhinoceros calves (two males, five females) and one hand-reared calf (male), ranging from one month to four years, was simultaneously audio and video-taped at three zoos. Normally reared infants and juveniles uttered four discriminable call types (Whine, Snort, Threat, and Pant) that were produced in different behavioural contexts. All call types were also uttered by the hand-reared calf. Call rates of Whines, but not of the other call types, decreased with age. These findings provide the first evidence that infant and juvenile rhinoceros utter specific call types in distinct contexts, even if they grow up with limited social interaction with conspecifics. By comparing our findings with the current literature on vocalisations of adult white rhinoceros and other solitary rhinoceros species, we discuss to which extent differences in the social lifestyle across species affect acoustic communication in mammals.
Project description:Poaching fuelled by international trade in horn caused the deaths of over 1000 African rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum and Diceros bicornis) per year between 2013 and 2017. Deterrents, which act to establish avoidance behaviours in animals, have the potential to aid anti-poaching efforts by moving at-risk rhinos away from areas of danger (e.g. near perimeter fences). To evaluate the efficacy of deterrents, we exposed a population of southern white rhinos (C. simum simum) to acoustic- (honeybee, siren, turtle dove), olfactory- (chilli, sunflower), and drone-based stimuli on a game reserve in South Africa. We exposed rhinos to each stimulus up to four times. Stimuli were considered effective deterrents if they repeatedly elicited avoidance behaviour (locomotion away from the deterrent). Rhinos travelled significantly further in response to the siren than to the honeybee or turtle dove stimulus, and to low-altitude drone flights than to higher altitude flights. We found the drone to be superior at manipulating rhino movement than the siren owing to its longer transmission range and capability of pursuit. By contrast, the scent stimuli were ineffective at inciting avoidance behaviour. Our findings indicate that deterrents are a prospective low-cost and in situ method to manage rhino movement in game reserves.
Project description:Vocal sequences - utterances consisting of calls produced in close succession - are common phenomena in animal communication. While many studies have explored the adaptive benefits of producing such sequences, very little is known about how the costs and constraints involved in their production affect their form. Here, we investigated this issue in the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) pant hoot, a long and structurally complex vocal sequence comprising four acoustically distinct phases - introduction, build-up, climax and let-down.We found that in each of these phases, and for the sequence as a whole, there was a negative relationship between the number of calls produced and their average duration. There was also a negative relationship between the total duration of some adjacent phases. Significant relationships between the fundamental frequency of calls and their number or duration were found for some phases of the sequence, but the direction of these relationships differed between particular phases.These results indicate that there are trade-offs in terms of signal duration at two levels in pant-hoot production: between call number and duration, and between the relative durations of successive phases. These trade-offs are likely to reflect biomechanical constraints on vocal sequence production. Phase-specific trade-offs also appear to occur between fundamental frequency and call number or duration, potentially reflecting that different phases of the sequence are associated with distinct types of information, linked in different ways to call pitch. Overall, this study highlights the important role of costs and constraints in shaping the temporal and acoustic structure of animal vocal sequences.
Project description:Birdsong is a prime example of acoustically sophisticated vocal behaviour, but its complexity has evolved mainly through sexual selection to attract mates and repel sexual rivals. In contrast, non-human primate calls often mediate complex social interactions, but are generally regarded as acoustically simple. Here, we examine arguably the most complex call in great ape vocal communication, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) 'pant hoot'. This signal consists of four acoustically distinct phases: introduction, build-up, climax and let-down. We applied state-of-the-art Support Vector Machines (SVM) methodology to pant hoots produced by wild male chimpanzees of Budongo Forest, Uganda. We found that caller identity was apparent in all four phases, but most strongly in the low-amplitude introduction and high-amplitude climax phases. Age was mainly correlated with the low-amplitude introduction and build-up phases, dominance rank (i.e. social status) with the high-amplitude climax phase, and context (reflecting activity of the caller) with the low-amplitude let-down phase. We conclude that the complex acoustic structure of chimpanzee pant hoots is linked to a range of socially relevant information in the different phases of the call, reflecting the complex nature of chimpanzee social lives.
Project description:Long-range vocal communication in socially monogamous titi monkeys is mediated by the production of loud, advertising calls in the form of solos, duets, and choruses. We conducted a power spectral analysis of duets and choruses (simply "duets" hereafter) followed by linear discriminant analysis using three acoustic parameters-dominant frequency of the combined signal, duet sequence duration, and pant call rate-comparing the coordinated vocalizations recorded from 36 family groups at 18 sites in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Our analysis identified four distinct duetting patterns: (1) a donacophilus pattern, sensu largo, characteristic of P. donacophilus, P. pallescens, P. olallae, and P. modestus; (2) a moloch pattern comprising P. discolor, P. toppini, P. aureipalatii, and P. urubambensis; (3) a torquatus pattern exemplified by the duet of Cheracebus lucifer; and (4) the distinctive duet of P. oenanthe, a putative member of the donacophilus group, which is characterized by a mix of broadband and narrowband syllables, many of which are unique to this species. We also document a sex-related difference in the bellow-pant phrase combination among the three taxa sampled from the moloch lineage. Our data reveal a presumptive taxonomic incoherence illustrated by the distinctive loud calls of both P. urubambensis and P. oenanthe within the donacophilus lineage, sensu largo. The results are discussed in light of recent reassessments of the callicebine phylogeny, based on a suite of genetic studies, and the potential contribution of environmental influences, including habitat acoustics and social learning. A better knowledge of callicebine loud calls may also impact the conservation of critically endangered populations, such as the vocally distinctive Peruvian endemic, the San Martin titi, P. oenanthe.
Project description:The African penguin is a nesting seabird endemic to southern Africa. In penguins of the genus Spheniscus vocalisations are important for social recognition. However, it is not clear which acoustic features of calls can encode individual identity information. We recorded contact calls and ecstatic display songs of 12 adult birds from a captive colony. For each vocalisation, we measured 31 spectral and temporal acoustic parameters related to both source and filter components of calls. For each parameter, we calculated the Potential of Individual Coding (PIC). The acoustic parameters showing PIC ? 1.1 were used to perform a stepwise cross-validated discriminant function analysis (DFA). The DFA correctly classified 66.1% of the contact calls and 62.5% of display songs to the correct individual. The DFA also resulted in the further selection of 10 acoustic features for contact calls and 9 for display songs that were important for vocal individuality. Our results suggest that studying the anatomical constraints that influence nesting penguin vocalisations from a source-filter perspective, can lead to a much better understanding of the acoustic cues of individuality contained in their calls. This approach could be further extended to study and understand vocal communication in other bird species.
Project description:Divergence of acoustic signals in a geographic scale results from diverse evolutionary forces acting in parallel and affecting directly inter-male vocal interactions among disjunct populations. Pleurodema thaul is a frog having an extensive latitudinal distribution in Chile along which males' advertisement calls exhibit an important variation. Using the playback paradigm we studied the evoked vocal responses of males of three populations of P. thaul in Chile, from northern, central and southern distribution. In each population, males were stimulated with standard synthetic calls having the acoustic structure of local and foreign populations. Males of both northern and central populations displayed strong vocal responses when were confronted with the synthetic call of their own populations, giving weaker responses to the call of the southern population. The southern population gave stronger responses to calls of the northern population than to the local call. Furthermore, males in all populations were stimulated with synthetic calls for which the dominant frequency, pulse rate and modulation depth were varied parametrically. Individuals from the northern and central populations gave lower responses to a synthetic call devoid of amplitude modulation relative to stimuli containing modulation depths between 30-100%, whereas the southern population responded similarly to all stimuli in this series. Geographic variation in the evoked vocal responses of males of P. thaul underlines the importance of inter-male interactions in driving the divergence of the acoustic traits and contributes evidence for a role of intra-sexual selection in the evolution of the sound communication system of this anuran.
Project description:A key driver of brain evolution in primates and humans is the cognitive demands arising from managing social relationships. In primates, grooming plays a key role in maintaining these relationships, but the time that can be devoted to grooming is inherently limited. Communication may act as an additional, more time-efficient bonding mechanism to grooming, but how patterns of communication are related to patterns of sociality is still poorly understood. We used social network analysis to examine the associations between close proximity (duration of time spent within 10 m per hour spent in the same party), grooming, vocal communication, and gestural communication (duration of time and frequency of behavior per hour spent within 10 m) in wild chimpanzees. This study examined hypotheses formulated a priori and the results were not corrected for multiple testing. Chimpanzees had differentiated social relationships, with focal chimpanzees maintaining some level of proximity to almost all group members, but directing gestures at and grooming with a smaller number of preferred social partners. Pairs of chimpanzees that had high levels of close proximity had higher rates of grooming. Importantly, higher rates of gestural communication were also positively associated with levels of proximity, and specifically gestures associated with affiliation (greeting, gesture to mutually groom) were related to proximity. Synchronized low-intensity pant-hoots were also positively related to proximity in pairs of chimpanzees. Further, there were differences in the size of individual chimpanzees' proximity networks-the number of social relationships they maintained with others. Focal chimpanzees with larger proximity networks had a higher rate of both synchronized low- intensity pant-hoots and synchronized high-intensity pant-hoots. These results suggest that in addition to grooming, both gestures and synchronized vocalizations may play key roles in allowing chimpanzees to manage a large and differentiated set of social relationships. Gestures may be important in reducing the aggression arising from being in close proximity to others, allowing for proximity to be maintained for longer and facilitating grooming. Vocalizations may allow chimpanzees to communicate with a larger number of recipients than gestures and the synchronized nature of the pant-hoot calls may facilitate social bonding of more numerous social relationships. As group sizes increased through human evolution, both gestures and synchronized vocalizations may have played important roles in bonding social relationships in a more time-efficient manner than grooming.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The two forms of white rhinoceros; northern and southern, have had contrasting conservation histories. The Northern form, once fairly numerous is now critically endangered, while the southern form has recovered from a few individuals to a population of a few thousand. Since their last taxonomic assessment over three decades ago, new material and analytical techniques have become available, necessitating a review of available information and re-assessment of the taxonomy. RESULTS: Dental morphology and cranial anatomy clearly diagnosed the southern and northern forms. The differentiation was well supported by dental metrics, cranial growth and craniometry, and corresponded with differences in post-cranial skeleton, external measurements and external features. No distinctive differences were found in the limited descriptions of their behavior and ecology. Fossil history indicated the antiquity of the genus, dating back at least to early Pliocene and evolution into a number of diagnosable forms. The fossil skulls examined fell outside the two extant forms in the craniometric analysis. Genetic divergence between the two forms was consistent across both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, and indicated a separation of over a million years. CONCLUSIONS: On re-assessing the taxonomy of the two forms we find them to be morphologically and genetically distinct, warranting the recognition of the taxa formerly designated as subspecies; Ceratotherium simum simum the southern form and Ceratotherium simum cottoni the northern form, as two distinct species Ceratotherium simum and Ceratotherium cottoni respectively. The recognition of the northern form as a distinct species has profound implications for its conservation.