Honest signaling in mouse lemur vocalizations?
International journal of primatology
AbstractAnimal vocalizations may provide information about a sender's condition or motivational state and, hence, mediate social interactions. In this study, we examined whether vocalizations of gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) emitted in aggressive contexts (grunts, tsaks) co-vary with physical condition, which would underly and indicate honest signaling. We recorded calls from captive individuals that were subjected to a caloric restricted (CR) or ad libitum (AL) diet, assuming that
... viduals on an ad libitum dietary regime were in better condition. We analyzed 828 grunts produced by seven CR and nine AL individuals and 270 tsaks by eight CR and five AL individuals. Grunts consisted of two separate elements, with the 1st element having more energy in higher frequencies than the 2nd element. Body mass correlated negatively with acoustic features of grunts, and heavier individuals produced lower-frequency grunts. Acoustic features of grunts did not differ between sexes. Acoustic features of tsaks were predicted by neither body mass nor sex. However, tsaks produced by AL individuals were noisier than those of CR individuals. Hence, manipulation of body condition via dietary regimes affected acoustic features of calls given during aggression in different ways: acoustic features of grunts varied according to the rule of acoustic allometry, and can be considered as honest signals. Acoustic features of tsaks, however, varied according to motivational structural rules. Longitudinal studies are now indicated to examine whether intra-individual changes in body mass are also reflected in the acoustic structure of calls, allowing callers to signal more flexible variation in condition.