Send to

Choose Destination
Am Nat. 2007 Apr;169(4):552-62. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Communication of male quality in owl hoots.

Author information

Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique--Unité Propre de Recherche 1934, 79360 Villiers en Bois, France.


The evolution of communication through intrasexual selection is expected to lead signalers to transmit honest information on their fighting ability. Here we studied the information encoded in the acoustic structure of the territorial calls of a nocturnal raptor. During territorial contests, male scops owls give hoots composed of a downward frequency shift followed by a stable plateau. We found that the frequency of the hoot was negatively correlated with the body weight of the vocalizer. We shifted the frequency contour of natural hoots in order to create resynthesized calls corresponding to individuals of varying body weight and used these stimuli in playback experiments simulating an intrusion into the territory of established breeders. Territory owners responded less intensely when they heard hoots simulating heavier intruders, and males with heavier apparent weight tended to give hoots with a lower plateau in response to playbacks simulating heavier intruders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for University of Chicago Press
Loading ...
Support Center