Biphonation May Function to Enhance Individual Recognition in the Dhole, Cuon alpinus


Elena V. Volodina, Scientific Research Department, Moscow Zoo, B. Gruzinskaya, 1, Moscow, 123242, Russia.


Biphonation (two independent fundamental frequencies in a call spectrum) represents one of the most widespread nonlinear phenomena in mammalian vocalizations. Recently, the structure of biphonations was described in detail; however, their functions are poorly understood. For the dhole (Cuon alpinus), biphonic calls represent a prominent feature of vocal activity. In this species, the biphonic call is composed of two frequency components – the high-frequency squeak and the low-frequency yap, which also occur alone as separate calls. In this study, we test the hypothesis that the complication of call structure, resulting from the joining of these calls into the biphonic yap–squeak may enhance the potential for individual recognition in the dhole. We randomly selected for analysis 30 high-frequency squeaks, 30 low-frequency yaps and 30 biphonic yap–squeaks per animal from five subadult captive dholes (450 calls in total). Discriminant analysis, based on 10 squeak parameter values, showed 80.7% correct assignment to a predicted individual. For 10 yap parameters, the correct assignment was only 44.7%. However, the analysis based on 10 parameters of the biphonic yap–squeak, selected as best contributing to discrimination, showed 96.7% correct assignment to a predicted individual. The results provide strong support for the hypothesis tested showing that the joining of two independent calls into a common vocalization may function to enhance individual recognition in the dhole.