Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Individual identity in hind and calf contact calls of Siberian wapiti Cervus elaphus sibiricus during separation (#668)

Olga V Sibiryakova 1 , Ilya A Volodin 1 , Elena V Volodina 2
  1. Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
  2. Scientific Research Department, Moscow Zoo, Moscow, Russia

Mother-offspring vocal recognition is critically important for survival of the young for many mammal taxa. Vocal identity in contact calls facilitates mothers-offspring reunions and prevents allosuckling. Hind and calf calls encode identity in many cervids, but not Siberian wapiti, Cervus elaphus sibiricus, an important animal farmed for velvet antlers, this information is lacking. Contact calls of mothers and 5-6 month old offspring were collected on the farm during 5 days after separation for winter keeping in December 2015. We recorded and analysed 134 oral (open-mouth) calls from 9 hinds (14-15 per individual) and 129 oral calls from 9 calves (10-15 per individual). The maximum fundamental frequency of hind calls (1.44±0.25 kHz) was as high as in calf calls (1.46±0.24 kHz; F1,16=0.04, p=0.85). Vocal identity was well expressed in both hinds and calves; discriminant analysis based on 11 acoustic variables accurately classified individuals in 92.5% hind calls and 96.9% calf calls (chi-square test, p=0.19). Variables contributing most to vocal individuality (duration, start and maximum fundamental frequency) were the same in hind and calf calls. Distinctive to Siberian wapiti, in Iberian red deer C. e. hispanicus, the maximum fundamental frequency of hind calls (0.21±0.04 kHz) was significantly lower than in 4-month-old calves (0.57±0.05 kHz). In Siberian wapiti hinds and calves, vocal individuality exceeded those of Iberian red deer hinds (77.0% calls of 22 mothers) and calves (61.1% calls of 17 young). We discuss the role of individuality and differences in contact calls across subspecies of red deer. Supported by RSF, grant 14-14-00237.