Heterospecific alarm-call recognition in a non-vocal reptile

Meeting Abstract

4.4  Thursday, Jan. 3  Heterospecific alarm-call recognition in a non-vocal reptile VITOUSEK, Maren N.*; ADELMAN, James S.; GREGORY, Nathan C.; ST CLAIR, James J. H.; Princeton University; Princeton University; Princeton University; University of Bath mvitouse@princeton.edu

Heterospecific alarm call recognition has previously been described only in species with vocal communication. Galapagos marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), do not emit any vocalizations or auditory alarm signals, but live in close proximity to the alarm-calling Galapagos mockingbird (Nesomimus parvulus). Both species are preyed upon by the Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis). Marine iguanas are frequently unable to observe hawks until they are in close proximity due to the rocky topography of the shoreline, and could benefit greatly by eavesdropping on mockingbird vocalizations to gain information about predator presence. Our results indicate that marine iguanas are able to differentiate between playbacks of the alarm call and song of Gal�pagos mockingbirds, and show increased anti-predator vigilance behavior in response to alarm calls. Eavesdropping on complex heterospecific communications demonstrates a remarkable degree of auditory discrimination in a non-vocal species.

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