The study, published in the April issue of the American Naturalist, was conducted between June 2003 and June 2005 on the isle of Oléron, off the west coast of France, where Christian Bavoux and Guy Burneleau have been studying the local scops owl population since 1981.
The authors have analyzed several hundreds of hoots recorded from 17 territorial males and demonstrated that the pitch of the vocalization reflects the body weight of the male: the heavier the male, the lower the pitch of his hoots. In order to see whether this information is actually used by male owls during territorial interactions, the authors conducted a series of playback experiments (commonly used in studies of animal communication in order to assess the function of vocal signals), monitoring the reaction of subjects to the broadcast of vocalizations. To do this they modified the pitch of several hoots, creating stimuli that mimicked the hoots given by males from a range of body weights. They then played back these recordings to males with established territories, and observed and quantified their response (a combination of approaches and vocal responses). The results show that male owls respond more strongly to the high-pitched calls that simulate lighter individuals, confirming that territorial males attend to pitch information advertising body weight in the calls of their competitors. The authors also found that the territory owners give slightly lower pitched hoots in response to calls mimicking heavier males, probably indicating that they attempted to sound heavier when challenged by more threatening individuals.
"The fact that owls are essentially active during the night puts a strong emphasis on acoustic communication as a means of assessment, both during male competition and during mate choice," says Loïc Hardouin who recently completed a PhD on acoustic communication and territoriality in owls. "The next step is to see whether females use these quality cues when they choose their mating partner." "The vocal communication of owls has interesting similarities to that of terrestrial mammals where the information is typically encoded in acoustic components of the calls rather than in the diversity of the vocal repertoire as it is in songbirds," says Reby, who is an expert in the study of mammal vocal communication.
Patricia Morse | EurekAlert!
20.11.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis
Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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