Mouse-song has a previously undiscovered seductive quality, and similarities to birdsong.
Mice communicate using ultrasound – squeaks and calls so high-pitched that they fall outside of the range of human hearing. Their range of vocalisations are likely for the usual reasons – a pup calling to its mother, for example – but beyond this, little is known about their use in social situations.
Researchers from Duke University have recently highlighted an unexpected complexity to the calls of mice. Not unlike beautiful birdsong, though simpler, the songs of male mice can be used to seduce a female. By studying the dynamics of various syllables used during the calls of males in different social situations, similar to how birdsong is structured, the team were able to put together a clearer picture.
Longer, more complex songs are sung when a male has discovered female scent, but has not yet found her. Only when in her presence does he revert to a simpler song. The team believe the louder, complex songs may be part of the seduction – more effort to impress a female and bring her closer – and the simpler songs are brought into play to conserve energy when close together, as the male puts more effort into chasing and courting. With females also showing a preference for the more complex songs, the research team have confidence in the different meaning of the calls, and the seductive power of complex mouse-song.
The above is based on materials provided by Duke University.
Chabout, J, Sarkar, A, Dunson, D, & Jarvis, E. (2015). Male mice song syntax depends on social contexts and influences female preferences.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, April, DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00076
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