What Do Functionally Referential Alarm Calls Refer To?

Edited by Marta B. Manser

in Cognitive Ecology II

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226169354
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226169378 | DOI:
What Do Functionally Referential Alarm Calls Refer To?

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This chapter links antipredatory and social behavior by analyzing the alarm calls of meerkats (Suricata suricatta). These cooperatively breeding animals employ referential alarm calls, which indicate the approach of specific predators and cause receivers to show an appropriate escape response to these predators. Functionally, referential calls refer to specific stimuli in the external environment of the caller and cause receivers to show an adaptive response to them. In some species, the predator-specific calls appear to refer to a predator species or category, whereas in others they appear to refer to the spatial area from which the predator is approaching, or its behavior. Neurobiological studies will help to identify whether the same regions of the brain are activated during encounters that elicit functionally referential calls and encounters that cause animals to change their call rate or other acoustic characteristics along a continuum.

Keywords: alarm calls; predators; escape response; adaptive response; functionally referential calls

Chapter.  7628 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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