The functions and mechanisms of predator-associated vocalisations in North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus)

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Digweed, Shannon Marie
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology, c2009
North American red squirrels are a solitary, territorial species that confront various predators. Previous research proposed that squirrels produce predator-specific, referential ‘seet’ and ‘bark’ alarm calls to aerial and ground predators, respectively. To test this hypothesis, I examined alarm call production during natural encounters with predators, conspecific intruders and in a series of predator simulation experiments. Call production patterns were consistent across all types of disturbance and involved protracted bouts where both call types were inter-mixed. Hence, the call types were not predator-specific but rather their patterning reflected the persistence of disturbances of any type. Tests of alternative call functions further indicated that calls were not actually directed at conspecifics, but rather at predators and intruders and might function to deter or repel them directly. These outcomes are consistent with life-history details of red squirrels and contradict the proposal that this species produces predator-specific, referential alarm calls.
xi, 153 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm
Tamiasciurus hudsonicus -- Vocalization , Sound production by animals , Dissertations, Academic