Body size and vocalization in primates and carnivores

Bowling, Daniel L. and Garcia, Maxime and Dunn, Jacob C. and Ruprecht, R. and Stewart, Asha and Frommolt, Karl-Heinz and Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2017) Body size and vocalization in primates and carnivores. Scientific Reports, 7 (41070). ISSN 2045-2322

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A fundamental assumption in bioacoustics is that large animals tend to produce vocalizations with lower frequencies than small animals. This inverse relationship between body size and vocalization frequencies is widely considered to be foundational in animal communication, with prominent theories arguing that it played a critical role in the evolution of vocal communication, in both production and perception. A major shortcoming of these theories is that they lack a solid empirical foundation: rigorous comparisons between body size and vocalization frequencies remain scarce, particularly among mammals. We address this issue here in a study of body size and vocalization frequencies conducted across 91 mammalian species, covering most of the size range in the orders Primates (n = 50; ~0.11–120 Kg) and Carnivora (n = 41; ~0.14–250 Kg). We employed a novel procedure designed to capture spectral variability and standardize frequency measurement of vocalization data across species. The results unequivocally demonstrate strong inverse relationships between body size and vocalization frequencies in primates and carnivores, filling a long-standing gap in mammalian bioacoustics and providing an empirical foundation for theories on the adaptive function of call frequency in animal communication.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: animal behaviour, data processing, evolutionary theory
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Jacob Dunn
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2017 14:57
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:59

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