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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2016

Authors: Garcia, M; Wondrak, M; Huber, L; Fitch, WT

Title: Honest signaling in domestic piglets (Sus scrofa domesticus): vocal allometry and the information content of grunt calls.

Source: J Exp Biol. 2016; 219(Pt 12):1913-1921

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Huber Ludwig
Wondrak Marianne

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition

Project(s): Socio-cognitive abilities of pigs

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.© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

Keywords Pubmed: Animals
Body Size
Body Weight
Sound Spectrography
Sus scrofagrowth & developmentphysiology
Vocal Cordsanatomy & histologydiagnostic imaging
Vocalization, Animal

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