The information conveyed in acoustic signals is a central topic in mammal vocal communication research. Body size is one form of information that can be encoded in calls. Acoustic allometry aims to identify the specific acoustic correlates of body size within the vocalizations of a given species, and formants are often a useful acoustic cue in this context. We conducted a longitudinal investigation of acoustic allometry in domestic piglets (Sus scrofa domesticus), asking whether formants of grunt vocalizations provide information concerning the caller"s body size over time. On four occasions, we recorded grunts from 20 kunekune piglets, measured their vocal tract length by means of radiographs (X-rays) and weighed them. Controlling for effects of age and sex, we found that body weight strongly predicts vocal tract length, which in turn determines formant frequencies. We conclude that grunt formant frequencies could allow domestic pigs to assess a signaler"s body size as it grows. Further research using playback experiments is needed to determine the perceptual role of formants in domestic pig communication.
Animals Body Size Body Weight Cues* Female Male Radiography/veterinary Sound Spectrography Sus scrofa/growth & development Sus scrofa/physiology* Vocal Cords/anatomy & histology Vocal Cords/diagnostic imaging Vocalization, Animal*