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Biol Lett. 2007 Aug 22;3(4):382-5.

Female red deer prefer the roars of larger males.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK.


Surprisingly little is known about the role of acoustic cues in mammal female mate choice. Here, we examine the response of female red deer (Cervus elaphus) to male roars in which an acoustic cue to body size, the formants, has been re-scaled to simulate different size callers. Our results show that oestrous red deer hinds prefer roars simulating larger callers and constitute the first evidence that female mammals use an acoustic cue to body size in a mate choice context. We go on to suggest that sexual selection through female mating preferences may have provided an additional selection pressure along with male-male competition for broadcasting size-related information in red deer and other mammals.

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