Some Malagasy mouse lemurs are so similar that picking a mate of the right species, especially at night time in a tropical forest, might seem like a matter of pot luck. However, new research in BioMed Central’s journal BMC Biology has shown that our desperately cute distant cousins use vocalisations to pick up a partner of the right species.
Until recently, grey, golden brown, and Goodman’s mouse lemurs were all thought to be the same species. But genetic testing revealed that they are, in fact, three distinct, species so similar that they cannot be told apart by their appearance—so called cryptic species. “A fundamental problem for cryptic species that live in the same area and habitat is the coordination of reproduction and discrimination between potential mates of the same species and remarkably similar individuals of other species” say Pia Braune and colleagues from the Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover University.
Males of these nocturnal species use advertising calls to let females know that they are looking for love. The researchers recorded advertising calls from the three species and then played them back to grey mouse lemurs, noting what response, if any, they made. “Grey mouse lemurs reacted more to calls from other grey mouse lemurs than to those of either other species”, say the researchers. Furthermore, the grey mouse lemurs seemed to ignore the calls of golden brown mouse lemurs, which live in the same area and habitat to them, but show some interest in the calls of Goodman’s mouse lemur, which they would never normally meet. “The importance of vocalisation in attracting mates is well known for frogs and birds”, explain the authors, “but this is the first evidence for species-specific call divergence in the communication of cryptic primate species with overlapping ranges.”
The lemurs’ moonlight serenades help to ensure that individuals of one species don’t waste time trying to mate with those of another, which would produce either no offspring or infertile hybrids. Indeed, the possibility of grey and golden-brown mouse lemurs encountering each other might explain the difference in calls and responses, according to Braune: “our data support the evolutionary hypothesis that species cohesiveness has led to divergence in signalling and recognition to avoid costly hybridisation.”
Charlotte Webber | alfa
The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine