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Abstract

Like many other gazelles, goitred gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa) are capable of calling either through the nose or through the open mouth. In particular, juvenile goitred gazelles provide a convenient model for contrasting acoustic characteristics of nasal and oral calls, and for estimating their communicative functions. In this study, acoustic variables (formants, fundamental frequency, duration and power quartiles) of 480 oral and 483 nasal calls, recorded from 20 (9 male, 11 female) individually identified captive juvenile goitred gazelles, were examined for their potential to encode sex and identity of the caller. Discriminant function analysis revealed an equally high potential of oral and nasal calls to encode sex, whereas encoding the individual identity was significantly more accurate for oral calls. Sex was encoded exclusively in formants, whilst individual identity was encoded in a combination of all investigated variables. No correlation was found between body mass and values of any acoustic variable. Analyses controlling for age and sex revealed higher average values for all investigated variables of oral calls compared to nasal calls. We discuss the results in relation to the source-filter theory, mother–offspring communication and production mechanisms of nasal and oral calls in mammals.