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Rut calls as vocal communication of male alpine chamois Rupricapra rupicapra (L. 1758), during the mating season [abstract]

Monica Giametta (2002). Rut calls as vocal communication of male alpine chamois Rupricapra rupicapra (L. 1758), during the mating season [abstract]. Bioacoustics, Volume 13 (2): 193 -194



Research into the rutting behaviour and territoriality of male alpine chamois Rupicapra rupicapra rupicapra (L. 1758) was done in Gran Paradiso National Park during November - December 1995. The area of study covers the left mountain of the high Orcos Valley, between 1,950 and 2,300 metres elevation. Data acquisition in the field was made from 5 November to 3 December 1995 (the chamois rutting season): a total of 88 hours of observation. The observation distance ranged from 20 to 300 metres. Animals observed were nine adult males from seven to eleven years old, and one of six, marked with radiocollars and / or eartags. 31 kinds of behaviours, which are the base of male-male and male-female social interactions (aggressive or not) have been described. In this ambit I will consider the Rut Call, which is a vocal display of dominance and threat, used by the male chamois in the two contexts of aggression and courtship. It is a sonorous grunt of a relatively low pitch, emitted through the nose and, most of all, the mouth, with the tongue extended. Of the total Rut calls recorded, I considered just those from four males having the meaning of beginning an aggressive interaction between males (Lovari & Locati 1991). These calls are at a time (first lo-day period), when those interactions appear longer and more ritualised then the second lo-day period when, while as the rut season advances, they become more violent and energetically costly. Since the call is produced also by isolated males and since Marking behaviour shows the same progression as the Rut call during the rutting season, 1 interpreted the Rut call as a vocal marking behaviour, connected to the defence of the hypothetical "territories'' (Giametta 1996, degree thesis). In the case of the Rut calls addressed to females, it assumes a meaning of vocal threat towards females which attempt to leave the herd. It is emitted repeatedly, furthermore, by males before and after mounting. Finally it is shown that the older males, who have the greatest reproductive success, emit to females a greater number of Rut calls than the younger males.