All clear? Meerkats attend to contextual information in close calls to coordinate vigilance

  title={All clear? Meerkats attend to contextual information in close calls to coordinate vigilance},
  author={Simon W. Townsend and Markus Z{\"o}ttl and Marta B. Manser},
  journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology},
Socio-demographic factors, such as group size and their effect on predation vulnerability, have, in addition to intrinsic factors, dominated as explanations when attempting to understand animal vigilance behaviour. It is generally assumed that animals evaluate these external factors visually; however, many socially foraging species adopt a foraging technique that directly compromises the visual system. In these instances, such species may instead rely more on the acoustical medium to assess… 
Flexible alarm calling in meerkats: the role of the social environment and predation urgency
The results indicate that variation in alarm call production depends on whom the call is addressed to and also on the motivational state of the caller, suggesting that neglecting to integrate internal and external factors when elucidating mechanisms underlying vocal production can potentially lead to misguided, parsimonious conclusions regarding vocal flexibility in animals.
Deep-diving beaked whales dive together but forage apart
It is concluded that the close diving and vocal synchronization of beaked whale groups that quantitatively reduces predation risk has little impact on foraging performance.
Ecological conditions influence sentinel decisions
Social monitoring via close calls in meerkats
It is argued that social monitoring based on non-agonistic cues is probably a common mechanism in group-living species that allows the adjustment of behaviour depending on variation in relationships.
Contextual encoding in titi monkey alarm call sequences
It is suggested that the acoustic and temporal structure of titi monkey call sequences discriminate between predator and non-predatory events, fulfilling the production criterion of functional reference.
Calling by Concluding Sentinels: Coordinating Cooperation or Revealing Risk?
It is concluded that pied babblers do not seem to call at the end of a sentinel bout to maximise the efficiency of this cooperative act, but may use vocalisations at this stage to influence more individually driven behaviours.
Meerkat helpers increase sentinel behaviour and bipedal vigilance in the presence of pups


Individuals in foraging groups may use vocal cues when assessing their need for anti-predator vigilance
It is shown that foraging pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor) are less vigilant when in larger groups, in the centre of a group and in closer proximity to another group member, and that foragers can use vocal cues to gain information on group size and their spatial position within a group.
The irrelevance of individual discrimination in meerkat alarm calls
Meerkat close calls encode group-specific signatures, but receivers fail to discriminate
The acoustic structure of suricates' alarm calls varies with predator type and the level of response urgency
  • M. Manser
  • Physics
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2001
This paper presents an example of a graded alarm call system that combines referential information and also information on the level of urgency, and suggests that, while suricates convey information about thelevel of urgency along a general rule, the referentIAL information about each category of predator type is not encoded in an obvious way.
Representational signalling in birds
Results show that chicken food calls are representational signals: they stimulate retrieval of information about a class of external events, the first such demonstration for any non-primate species.
Calling was contagious in that calls typically elicited vocal responses from out-of-sight group members within a few seconds, suggesting that Diana monkey clear calls act as an essential element in a mutualistic system of co-ordinated vigilance.
The information that receivers extract from alarm calls in suricates
This study tested whether receivers respond appropriately when hearing a call in the absence of a predator, and found that subjects responded differently to alarm calls given in response to aerial or terrestrial predators and to recruitment calls emitted in Response to snakes and deposits on the ground.
Back to the basics of antipredatory vigilance: can nonvigilant animals detect attack?
It is demonstrated that actively feeding, free-living, dark-eyed juncos, Junco hyemalis, have a considerable ability to detect approaching predators even when not overtly vigilant, although their detection ability is greater when they raise their heads.
Vocal mediation of foraging competition in the cooperatively breeding green woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)
  • A. Radford
  • Psychology
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2004
The ‘kek’ call of the cooperatively breeding green woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus) is investigated, finding that it acts as a vocal signal of foraging niche and mediates foraging competition, and is unlikely to be used to recruit conspecifics.