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J Acoust Soc Am. 2009 Oct;126(4):2082-7. doi: 10.1121/1.3203667.

Why do Chinese alligators (Alligator sinensis) form bellowing choruses: a playback approach.

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Institute of Hydrobiology, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, People's Republic of China.


Crocodilians are quite vocal relative to other reptile groups, and the alligators are among the most vocal of the crocodilians. The Chinese alligator, Alligator sinensis, is usually solitary but engages in bellowing choruses in certain waters during the mating season. This paper reports the organization of Chinese alligator's bellowing choruses based upon field observations and playback experiments. Alligators of both genders engaged in the choruses, remaining immobile throughout and inclining toward bellowing synchronously (i.e., starting and finishing at about the same time). The choruses lasted about 10 min with abrupt onset and offset. Moreover, playback experiments revealed that both male and female alligators responded equally to bellowing stimuli from the same and opposite sexes and that none of the tested alligators approached the loudspeaker in spite of playback of male or female stimuli. These suggest that Chinese alligators may not bellow to compete for or attract mates during the choruses. Instead, when their ecological behaviors, namely, dispersed inhabitation, multi-copulation, restricted mating season, etc., are considered, we hypothesize that they may synchronize bellows to enhance group detectability for assembling individuals into certain waters for subsequent copulations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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