Michaela Syrová, Richard Policht, Pavel Linhart, Marek Špinka
Many studies have shown that animal vocalizations can signal individual identity and group/family membership. However, much less is known about the ontogeny of identity information—when and how this individual/group distinctiveness in vocalizations arises and how it changes during the animal’s life. Recent findings suggest that even species that were thought to have limited vocal plasticity could adjust their calls to sound more similar to each other within a group. It has already been shown that sows can acoustically distinguish their own offspring from alien piglets and that litters differ in their calls. Surprisingly, individual identity in piglet calls has not been reported yet. In this paper, this gap is filled, and it is shown that there is information about piglet identity. Information about litter identity is confirmed as well. Individual identity increased with age, but litter vocal identity did not increase with age. The results were robust as a similar pattern was apparent in two situations differing in arousal: isolation and back-test. This paper argues that, in piglets, increased individual discrimination results from the rapid growth of piglets, which is likely to be associated with growth and diversification of the vocal tract rather than from social effects and vocal plasticity.
Back to scientific papers.