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paper on mother-young recognition

Subject: paper on mother-young recognition
From: Dave Mellinger <>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2006 10:08:57 -0700
Forwarded from Alan McElligott <>:

The following paper will appear in the September issue of The American 
Naturalist, and is already available online.

Marco V. G. Torriani, Elisabetta Vannoni, and Alan G. McElligott
Mother-young recognition in an ungulate hider species: a unidirectional process
American Naturalist 168:412-420, 2006.

Correspondence: Alan McElligott (email: 

Parent-offspring recognition is usually crucial for survival of young. In 
mammals, olfaction often only permits identification at short range and 
vocalizations are important at longer distances. Following and hiding 
anti-predator strategies found in newborn mammals, may also affect parental 
recognition mechanisms. We investigated mother-offspring recognition in fallow 
deer; an ungulate hider species. We analyzed the structure of adult female and 
fawn contact calls to determine if they are individually distinctive and tested 
for mother-offspring recognition. Only females (and not fawns) have 
individualized vocalizations, with the fundamental frequency as the most 
distinctive parameter. Playback experiments showed that fawns can distinguish 
the calls of their mothers from other females, but mothers could not 
discriminate own and alien fawn calls. Thus, the vocal identification process 
is unidirectional. In followers, mother-offspring acoustic recognition is 
mutual, and therefo
re the different anti-predator strategies of newborn mammals may have shaped 
the modalities of parent-offspring acoustic recognition.

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