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Female and male adult brush mice (Peromyscus boylii) use ultrasonic vocalizations in the wild

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We examined the individual context of ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) produced by free-living wild male and female adult brush mice (Peromyscus boylii). We tested the hypothesis that USV production is dependent on behavioral context, and is important during both adult male and female interactions. Our methods included a 12-channel microphone array, radio-telemetry and thermal imaging that allowed us to determine: (1) who produced USVs, (2) characteristics of USVs, (3) type of USVs, (4) behavioral context of USVs and (5) the identity of the second mouse if an individual was not alone when a USV was produced. Females vocalized as much as males and produced the same types of USVs as males. There were no differences between spectral characteristics of male and female USVs. Females and males vocalized in the presence of one another. Importantly, when females were together they vocalized more than expected based on the proportion of time they spent together. Our results suggest that, in addition to facilitating courtship and mating, USVs are general territorial calls for neighbors because females vocalized in the presence of their neighbors. Despite a large literature on laboratory mouse (Mus musculus) USVs, studies are heavily biased towards males. Our results on brush mice, a species with a similar breeding system to the lab mouse and other rodents, suggest that female–female communication is an important and underappreciated component of the evolution and maintenance of mouse USVs.

Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), Greensboro, NC, USA

10.1163/1568539X-00003118
/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003118
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    • Publication Date : 18 November 2013
    • DOI : 10.1163/1568539x-00003118_001
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/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003118
2013-01-01
2016-12-07

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