Body language: Its importance for communication with horses

Body language is important for communication between individuals. Body language is based on the fact that the thought of performing a known action, alone, will activate the motor neurons used for the action, resulting in a slight contraction of the involved muscles. These contractions are called intention movements and signal what the sender will do […]

Vocal buffering of the stress response: exposure to conspecific vocalizations moderates urinary cortisol excretion in isolated marmosets

For many species, the presence of a significant social partner can lessen the behavioral and physiological responses to stressful stimuli. This study examined whether a single, individually specific, signature vocalization (phee call) could attenuate the physiological stress response that is induced in marmosets by housing them in short-term social isolation. Utilizing a repeated-measures design, adult […]

Stress-related acoustic communication in the domestic pig (Sus scrofa)


Contrasting coloration in terrestrial mammals

Here I survey, collate and synthesize contrasting coloration in 5000 species of terrestrial mammals focusing on black and white pelage. After briefly reviewing alternative functional hypotheses for coloration in mammals, I examine nine colour patterns and combinations on different areas of the body and for each mammalian taxon to try to identify the most likely […]

Vocal communication in African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20251.abs Research on vocal communication in African elephants has increased in recent years, both in the wild and in captivity, providing an opportunity to present a comprehensive review of research related to their vocal behavior. Current data indicate that the vocal repertoire consists of perhaps nine acoustically distinct call types, “rumbles” being the most […]

Estrous state influences on investigative, aggressive, and tail flicking behavior in captive female Asian elephants

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20181.abs Females of species that live in matrilineal hierarchies may compete for temporally limited resources, yet maintain social harmony to facilitate cohesion. The relative degree of aggressive and nonaggressive interactions may depend on the reproductive condition of sender and receiver. Individuals can benefit by clearly signaling and detecting reproductive condition. Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) […]

Scent marking in wild banded mongooses: 1. Sex-specific scents and overmarking

Overmarking occurs when one individual places its scent mark directly on top of the scent mark of another individual. Although it is almost ubiquitous among terrestrial mammals, we know little about the function of overmarking and detailed field observations are rare. We investigated the chemical composition of scents and patterns of overmarking by wild banded […]

Scent marking in wild banded mongooses: 2. Intrasexual overmarking and competition between males

Sexual selection has resulted in the elaboration of secondary sexual characteristics in many animals. Although mammalian scent glands, secretions and marking behaviour are commonly sexually dimorphic, these traits have received little attention compared to avian plumage and mammalian weaponry. Overmarking, when one individual places a scent mark directly over that of another individual, is of […]

Scent marking in wild banded mongooses: 3. Intrasexual overmarking in females

In contrast to numerous studies of scent marking in male mammals, studies of female scent marking are relatively rare. We have previously shown that communally breeding female banded mongooses, Mungos mungo, are more likely to overmark the scent of other females. Here we describe female overmarking patterns in more detail, and discuss these results in […]

Do dogs distinguish rational from irrational acts?

Range et al. (2007, Current Biology, 17, 868-872) found that dogs, Canis familiaris, copy others’ means to achieve a goal more often when those means are the rational solution to a problem than when they are irrational. In our first experiment, we added a further control condition and failed to replicate this result, suggesting that dogs […]