Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) acoustic repertoire: form and contexts
The classification and description of a species’ acoustic repertoire is critical to our understanding of broader behavioural patterns and provides data for future cross-species comparative studies. To date, our understanding of canid auditory communication remains limited as full acoustic repertoires have been compiled for only nine of 36 extant species. Dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) are apex predators in Australia, and while their ecology and life-history patterns have been extensively studied, their communication system remains poorly understood. Early studies noted four sound types, but whether this represented the dingoes’ full range of laryngeal and nasal sounds was unknown. We aimed to quantitatively and qualitatively describe the full acoustic repertoire of dingoes. We identified nine discrete vocalisations (i.e., laryngeal sounds) and two nasal sounds. Of these nine vocalisations, five were previously identified as common to other canid species. This study also revealed that dingoes possess a graded acoustic communication system, where the gradual change in acoustic characteristics of discrete vocalisations was noted. Dingoes also uttered ‘mixed sounds’, a finding in concordance with previous studies of social canids. Additionally, we established an ethogram to further our understanding of the contexts in which dingo acoustic communication occurs.