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Title: Flexible receiver responses to anti-predator vocalisations in dwarf mongooses
Author: Kern, Julie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 7654
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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Vocal communication underpins behavioural interactions in many species. Receivers often show flexible responses to the same or acoustically similar vocalisations, but the causes and adaptive significance of this flexibility remain poorly understood in comparison to variation in signaller behaviour. In this thesis, I explore flexibility in responses to anti-predator vocalisations depending on caller identity and context, using dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula) as a model system. I demonstrate that foragers rely more on surveillance calls from dominant sentinels compared to subordinates; dominant individuals perform more sentinel duty and chose higher guard posts, thus may provide higher quality information (Chapter 2). I find little evidence that caller dominance status affects response to recruitment calls, but that individuals show a stronger mobbing response to recruitment calls of closely affiliated groupmates; anti-predator assistance may be a benefit of close 'friendships' (Chapter 3). In Chapter 4, I examine whether receivers balance personal and social information when deciding whether to respond to potentially false alarm calls. Individuals use alarm · calls when they provide information about risk which is novel compared to personal information, are more responsive to alarms from sentinels (whose elevated position enhances predator detection) than foragers, and are more likely to respond when supplementary fed, adjusting their responses to the relative likelihood of predation and starvation. In Chapter 5, I explore potential effects of anthropogenic noise on receiver behaviour. Traffic noise lessens the response of foragers to surveillance calls through a combination of partial acoustic masking and greater perceived risk, disrupting optimisation of the foraging-vigilance trade-off. Finally, I show the importance of having previous knowledge about signallers when assessing available social information quality; foragers treated surveillance calls from recent immigrants as less reliable than those from resident individuals, and thus dispersal may carry short-term information costs (Chapter 6).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available