Individually distinctive pup vocalizations fail to prevent allo-suckling in grey seals

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54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In crowded aggregations that occur in breeding colonies, female pinnipeds commonly become separated from their pups and may use spatial, olfactory, or auditory cues to locate them. A system of mutual recognition based on vocalizations is known for otariids. Female phocids are known to use location and olfaction to help identify pups, but evidence for vocal recognition is weak. During the 1997 breeding season on the Isle of May, Scotland, vocalizations were recorded from grey seal, Halichoerus grypus, pups; playback experiments were carried out; and nursing of nonfilial pups was observed. Pup vocalizations were found to be both stereotyped and individually distinctive, features normally associated with a system of individual recognition. However, playback experiments revealed that mothers did not respond more to vocalizations of their own pups than to those of nonfilial pups. Furthermore, seventeen cases of allo-suckling were observed during 68 h of observation on the colony. High densities of animals and frequent separations present challenges to identification of pups by their mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-723
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume77
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1999

Keywords

  • LAND-FAST ICE
  • HALICHOERUS-GRYPUS
  • PHOCA-VITULINA
  • SITE FIDELITY
  • GRAY SEALS
  • NORTH-RONA
  • MOTHER
  • BEHAVIOR
  • SEPARATION
  • DISPERSION

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