Mate Recognition and Expression of Affective State in Croop Calls of Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita)
OPEN PloS one | 8 Feb 2014
G Szipl, M Boeckle, SA Werner and K Kotrschal
Northern Bald Ibis are socially monogamous and year-round colonial birds with a moderate repertoire of calls. Their ‘croop’, for example, is used during greeting of mates, but also during agonistic encounters, and provides an ideal case to study whether calls are revealing with respect to motivational states. We recorded croop calls in a semi-tame and free-roaming flock of Northern Bald Ibis in Austria, and analysed the vocal structure to identify parameters (e.g. call duration, fundamental frequency) potentially differing between social contexts, sexes and individuals. Additionally, we conducted playback experiments to test whether mated pairs would discriminate each other by their greeting croops. Acoustic features showed highly variable temporal and structural parameters. Almost all calls could be classified correctly and assigned to the different social contexts and sexes. Classification results of greeting croops were less clear for individuality. However, incubating individuals looked up more often and longer in response to playbacks of the greeting calls of their mate than to other colony members, indicating mate recognition. We show that acoustic parameters of agonistic and greeting croops contain features that may indicate the expression of affective states, and that greeting croops encode individual differences that are sufficient for individual recognition.
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