Female koalas prefer bellows in which lower formants indicate larger males

Charlton, Benjamin D., Ellis, William A. H., Brumm, Jacqui, Nilsson, Karen and Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2012) Female koalas prefer bellows in which lower formants indicate larger males. Animal Behaviour, 84 6: 1565-1571. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.09.034

Author Charlton, Benjamin D.
Ellis, William A. H.
Brumm, Jacqui
Nilsson, Karen
Fitch, W. Tecumseh
Title Female koalas prefer bellows in which lower formants indicate larger males
Journal name Animal Behaviour   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0003-3472
Publication date 2012-10-26
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.09.034
Volume 84
Issue 6
Start page 1565
End page 1571
Total pages 7
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Despite an extensive literature on the role of acoustic cues in mate choice little is known about the specific vocal traits that female mammals prefer. We used resynthesis techniques and playback experiments to examine the behavioural responses of oestrous female koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus, to male bellows in which a specific acoustic cue to body size, the formants, were modified to simulate callers of different body size. Oestrous females looked longer towards, and spent more time in close proximity to, loudspeakers broadcasting bellows simulating larger male koalas. These findings suggest that female koalas use formants (key components of human speech) to select larger males as mating partners, and represent the first evidence of a marsupial mating preference based on a vocal signal. More generally, these results indicate that intersexual selection pressures to lower formants and exaggerate size are present in a marsupial species, raising interesting questions about the evolutionary origins of formant perception.
Keyword Acoustic cues to body size
Female mating preference
Formant frequency
Phascolarctos cinereus
Vocal communication
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation Publications
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 15 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 08 Apr 2013, 17:12:44 EST by Dr Bill Ellis on behalf of School of Biological Sciences