Individual-based acoustic variation of the alarm calls in the long-tailed ground squirrel

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2021
Authors:Goncharov, Policht, Hambálková, Salovarov, Hart
Keywords:acoustic evolution, alarm call, rodent, Spermophilus, Urocitellus, vocal diversity

Based on their phylogenetic position, Nearctic ground squirrels are closest relatives to the long-tailed ground squirrel Urocitellus undulates even though it has Palaearctic distribution. We aimed to investigate the variability of alarm calls of the long-tailed ground squirrel to test the individual variation in alarm calls. This species is known to produce two types of alarm calls: whistle alarms and wideband calls. Although ground squirrels are a model group for the study of vocal individuality, this phenomenon has not yet been studied in a species producing two such completely different types of alarms. Most of ground squirrel species produce either whistle or wideband alarms and this species represents a unique model for testing the degree of individual variability depending on completely different acoustic structures. We analysed 269 whistle alarms produced by 13 individuals and 591 wideband alarms from 25 individuals at the western part of Lake Baikal. A discriminant function analysis (DFA) assigned 93.5% (88.9%, cross-validated result) of whistle alarms to the correct individual and 91.4% (84%) of wideband alarms. This is the first evidence of individual variation in wideband alarms compared with whistle alarms and occurrence of vocal individuality in two warning signals of a completely different acoustic structure produced by a ground squirrel.

BioAcoustica ID: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith