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Data from: Cooperative bird discriminates between individuals based purely on their aerial alarm calls

Cite this dataset

Farrow, Lucy; Barati, Ahmad; McDonald, Paul (2019). Data from: Cooperative bird discriminates between individuals based purely on their aerial alarm calls [Dataset]. Dryad.


From an evolutionary perspective, the ability to recognize individuals provides great selective advantages, such as avoiding inbreeding depression during breeding. Whilst the capacity to recognize individuals for these types of benefits is well established in social contexts, why this recognition might arise in a potentially deadly alarm calling context following predator encounters is less obvious. For example, in most avian systems, alarm signals directed towards aerial predators represent higher predation risk and vulnerability than when individuals vocalize towards a terrestrial-based predator. While selection should favour simple, more effective alarm calls to these dangerous aerial predators, the potential of these signals to nonetheless encode additional information such as caller identity has not received a great deal of attention. We tested for individual discrimination capacity in the aerial alarm vocalizations of the noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala), a highly social honeyeater that has been previously shown to be able to discriminate between the terrestrial alarm signals of individuals. Utilising habituation-discrimination paradigm testing we found conclusive evidence of individual discrimination in the aerial alarm calls of noisy miners, that was surprisingly of similar efficiency to their ability to discriminate between less urgent terrestrial alarm signals. While the mechanism/s driving this behavior are currently unclear, it most likely occurs as a result of selection favouring individualism among other social calls in the repertoire of this cooperative species. This raises the intriguing possibility that individualistic signatures in vocalizations of social animals might be more widespread than currently appreciated, opening new areas of bioacoustics research.

Usage notes


New South Wales
New England Tablelands