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Ultrasonic vocalizations of female Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) in response to social partners

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Abstract

In many species of animals, male vocalizations function to attract mating partners and coordinate sexual interactions. While male vocalizations have been well studied in several species, the function of female vocalizations in mating contexts is not fully understood. In Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), both males and females produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) during sexual encounters with opposite-sex partners. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that female vocalizations play a role in sociosexual interactions by examining how rates of 50kHz USV production vary in relation to the sex and gonadal status of the partner, and by examining whether the proportion of frequency modulated (FM) and constant frequency calls differs between these categories of social partner. The results showed that females produced a higher total number of 50kHz USVs to intact males than castrated males, and produced similar numbers of calls to both categories of females. Females also produced a higher proportion of FM calls to male partners than to female partners, and spent more time in the vicinity of male than female partners, regardless of the partners’ gonadal status. Female USVs therefore potentially provide a measure of sexual motivation and may function to promote female mate choice in this species with multi-male mating and a high risk of infanticide.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-80
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Volume130
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

    Research areas

  • Communication, Rodents, 50kHz, Frequency modulated calls

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