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Data from: Multiple adaptive and non-adaptive processes determine responsiveness to heterospecific alarm calls in African savannah herbivores

Citation

Meise, Kristine; Franks, Daniel W.; Bro-Jorgensen, Jakob (2018), Data from: Multiple adaptive and non-adaptive processes determine responsiveness to heterospecific alarm calls in African savannah herbivores, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mb7dd20

Abstract

Heterospecific alarm calls may provide crucial survival benefits shaping animal behaviour. Multispecies studies can disentangle the relative importance of the various processes determining these benefits, but previous studies have included too few species for alternative hypotheses to be tested quantitatively in a comprehensive analysis. In a community-wide study of African savannah herbivores, we here, for the first time to our knowledge, partition alarm responses according to distinct aspects of the signaller–receiver relationship and thereby uncover the impact of several concurrent adaptive and non-adaptive processes. Stronger responses were found to callers who were vulnerable to similar predators and who were more consistent in denoting the presence of predators of the receiver. Moreover, alarm calls resembling those of conspecifics elicited stronger responses, pointing to sensory constraints, and increased responsiveness to more abundant callers indicated a role of learning. Finally, responses were stronger in risky environments. Our findings suggest that mammals can respond adaptively to variation in the information provided by heterospecific callers but within the constraints imposed by a sensory bias towards conspecific calls and reduced learning of less familiar calls. The study thereby provides new insights central to understanding the ecological consequences of interspecific communication networks in natural communities.

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