Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Male owls pitch their hoots to advertise body weight to competitors

Why do male owls hoot? Researchers from the Centre d'Études Biologiques de Chizé (France) and the University of Sussex (UK) have studied the vocal communication of male European Scops owls, one of the smallest living species of nocturnal raptors.

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!
Further information:

Further reports about: hoot pitch weight

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>