Holarctic Marmots as a factor of Biodiversity.
Rumiantsev V.Yu;, Nikol'skii A.A. & Brandler O.V. eds.,
Abstracts, 3d Conference on Marmots (Cheboksary, Russia, 25-30 August 1997),
Moscow ABF 1997, 216p. : 128.


D.T. Blumstein

Department of Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA

A fundamental question in behavioral biology is how does complex 'situationally-specific' communication evolve. Marmots are an ideal taxon to ask this general question in because, when alarmed by predators, all species emit loud and situationally-variable alarm vocalizations. In theory, some species could have predator-specific alarm calls. Current evidence, however, suggests that marmots vary their calls according to the degree-of-risk a caller experiences when calling. Marmots encode degree-of-risk by varying the number of 'notes' they 'package' into an alarm call, by varying the rate at which they alarm call, and by producing different types of alarm calls. Current and on-going research seeks to understand the relative importance of social variation and the acoustic environment in accounting for the diversity of mechanisms marmots use to encode situation, and thereby shed light on how complex communication evolves.

Back to Abstracts content