Article: article from journal or magazin.
Efficiency and significance of multiple vocal signals in sibling competition
Animals can compete for resources by displaying various acoustic signals that may differentially affect the outcome of competition. We propose the hypothesis that the most efficient signal to deter opponents should be the one that most honestly reveals motivation to compete. We tested this hypothesis in the barn owl (Tyto alba) in which nestlings produce more calls of longer duration than siblings to compete for priority access to the indivisible prey item their parents will deliver next. Because nestlings increase call rate to a larger extent than call duration when they become hungrier, call rate would signal more accurately hunger level. This leads us to propose three predictions. First, a high number of calls should be more efficient in deterring siblings to compete than long calls. Second, the rate at which an individual calls should be more sensitive to variation in the intensity of the sibling vocal competition than the duration of its calls. Third, call rate should influence competitors' vocalization for a longer period of time than call duration. To test these three predictions we performed playback experiments by broadcasting to singleton nestlings calls of varying durations and at different rates. According to the first prediction, singleton nestlings became less vocal to a larger extent when we broadcasted more calls compared to longer calls. In line with the second prediction, nestlings reduced vocalization rate to a larger extent than call duration when we broadcasted more or longer calls. Finally, call rate had a longer influence on opponent's vocal behavior than call duration. Young animals thus actively and differentially use multiple signaling components to compete with their siblings over parental resources.
Begging, Call rate, Call duration, Multiple signaling, Sibling negotiation, Sibling competition, Communication
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