Communication of Stimulus Size and Shape in Alarm Calls of Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs, Cynomys gunnisoni
Article first published online: 25 DEC 2001
Volume 105, Issue 2, pages 149–162, February 1999
How to Cite
Ackers, S. H. and Slobodchikoff, C. N. (1999), Communication of Stimulus Size and Shape in Alarm Calls of Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs, Cynomys gunnisoni. Ethology, 105: 149–162. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0310.1999.00381.x
- Issue published online: 25 DEC 2001
- Article first published online: 25 DEC 2001
Gunnison’s prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni) emit multiple-note alarm calls to terrestrial predators that vary in acoustic structure according to the eliciting stimulus. The characteristics of the predator that are salient with respect to alarm call variation, however, are poorly understood. Although the behavior of predators has been shown to influence alarm call production in other species of ground-dwelling sciurids, the degree to which sciurid alarm calls describe physical characteristics of predators has not been addressed independently of the effects of variation in predator behavior. The effect of variation in the size and shape of the eliciting stimulus was studied by presenting silhouette models to a colony of prairie dogs and recording the alarm calls that were elicited. Discriminant function analysis on 7 variables measured from spectrograms revealed that the alarm calls differed with respect to silhouette. These results suggest that information with respect to stimulus size and shape is encoded in prairie dog alarm calls.