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The subantarctic fur seal pup switches its begging behaviour during maternal absence

Abstract : Begging signals from the young are used to elicit parental care. Although honest and parent-directed signalling seems to be widely shared characteristic of begging behaviour, offspring might modify their strategy under some ecological or environmental constraints. In the subantarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus tropicalis, mothers forage at sea for 2–3 weeks at a time throughout the lactation period, resulting in regular separations of mothers and pups. Using playback experiments we investigated modifications of pups' begging behaviour during their mother's absence. From the 1st to the 5th day of maternal absence, pups rarely begged in response to other adult females' vocalizations (17.6–46.7% of tested pups), but always responded specifically to their mother's. After its mother had been absent for 5–10 days, the pup's response to playback of strange females' calls was stronger (46–69% of tested pups), but the specificity of the response to the mother remained. However, after the 11th day of maternal absence, pups become highly responsive to calls made by any adult female (up to 37% of tested pups). The variation in responsiveness of fur seal pups during their mother's absence may be explained by changes in their motivational state that were linked to their internal nutritional balance.
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Contributor : Florent Breuil Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, June 1, 2012 - 2:51:57 PM
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Isabelle Charrier, Nicolas Mathevon, Mohammed Hassnaoui, Laurent Carraro, Pierre Jouventin. The subantarctic fur seal pup switches its begging behaviour during maternal absence. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 2002, 80 (7), pp. 1250-1255. ⟨10.1139/z02-109⟩. ⟨emse-00703297⟩



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