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Social Effects On Vocal Ontogeny In An Ungulate, The Goat, Capra Hircus, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Social Effects On Vocal Ontogeny In An Ungulate, The Goat, Capra Hircus, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Vocal plasticity is the ability of an individual to modify its vocalizations according to its environment. Humans benefit from an extreme form of vocal plasticity, allowing us to produce a wide range of sounds. This capacity to modify sounds has been shown in three bird orders and in a few nonhuman mammal species, all characterized by complex vocal communication systems. In other mammals, there is no evidence for a social impact on vocal development. We investigated whether contact calls were affected by social environment and kinship during early ontogeny in goats, a highly vocal and social species. To test the ...


Rescued Goats At A Sanctuary Display Positive Mood After Former Neglect, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Rescued Goats At A Sanctuary Display Positive Mood After Former Neglect, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Moods influence cognitive processes in that people in positive moods expect more positive events to occur and less negative ones (“optimistic bias”), whereas the opposite happens for people in negative moods (“pessimistic bias”). The evidence for an effect of mood on cognitive bias is also increasing in animals, suggesting that measures of optimism and pessimism could provide useful indicators of animal welfare. For obvious ethical reasons, serious poor treatments cannot be easily replicated in large mammals in order to study their long-term effects on moods. In this study, we tested the long-term effects (>2 years) of prior poor welfare on ...


Mutual Mother–Offspring Vocal Recognition In An Ungulate Hider Species (Capra Hircus), Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Mutual Mother–Offspring Vocal Recognition In An Ungulate Hider Species (Capra Hircus), Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Parent–offspring recognition can be essential for offspring survival and important to avoid misdirected parental care when progeny mingle in large social groups. In ungulates, offspring anti-predator strategies (hiding vs. following) result in differences in mother–offspring interactions, and thus different selection pressures acting on the recognition process during the first weeks of life. Hider offspring are isolated and relatively stationary and silent to avoid detection by predators, whereas follower offspring are mobile and rapidly mix in large social groups. For these reasons, hiders have been suggested to show low offspring call individuality leading to unidirectional recognition of mothers by ...


Judgement Bias In Goats (Capra Hircus): Investigating The Effects Of Human Grooming, Luigi Baciadonna, Christian Nawroth, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Judgement Bias In Goats (Capra Hircus): Investigating The Effects Of Human Grooming, Luigi Baciadonna, Christian Nawroth, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Animal emotional states can be investigated by evaluating their impact on cognitive processes. In this study, we used a judgement bias paradigm to determine if shortterm positive human-animal interaction (grooming) induced a positive affective state in goats. We tested two groups of goats and trained them to discriminate between a rewarded and a non-rewarded location over nine training days. During training, the experimental group (nD9) was gently groomed by brushing their heads and backs for five min over 11 days (nine training days, plus two testing days, total time 55 min). During training, the control group (nD10) did not experience ...


Mother Goats Do Not Forget Their Kids’ Calls, Elodie F. Briefer, Mónica Padilla de la Torre, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Mother Goats Do Not Forget Their Kids’ Calls, Elodie F. Briefer, Mónica Padilla De La Torre, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Parent–offspring recognition is crucial for offspring survival. At long distances, this recognition is mainly based on vocalizations. Because of maturation-related changes to the structure of vocalizations, parents have to learn successive call versions produced by their offspring throughout ontogeny in order to maintain recognition. However, because of the difficulties involved in following the same individuals over years, it is not clear how long this vocal memory persists. Here, we investigated long-term vocal recognition in goats. We tested responses of mothers to their kids’ calls 7–13 months after weaning. We then compared mothers’ responses to calls of their previous ...


Intrasexual Selection Drives Sensitivity To Pitch, Formants And Duration In The Competitive Calls Of Fallow Bucks, Benjamin J. Pitcher, Elodie Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Intrasexual Selection Drives Sensitivity To Pitch, Formants And Duration In The Competitive Calls Of Fallow Bucks, Benjamin J. Pitcher, Elodie Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Background: Mammal vocal parameters such as fundamental frequency (or pitch; fo) and formant dispersion often provide information about quality traits of the producer (e.g. dominance and body size), suggesting that they are sexually selected. However, little experimental evidence exists demonstrating the importance of these cues in intrasexual competition, particularly fo. Male Fallow deer (bucks) produce an extremely low pitched groan. Bucks have a descended larynx and generate fo well below what is expected for animals of their size. Groan parameters are linked to caller dominance, body size and condition, suggesting that groans are the product of sexual selection. Using ...


Indicators Of Age, Body Size And Sex In Goat Kid Calls Revealed Using The Source–Filter Theory, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Indicators Of Age, Body Size And Sex In Goat Kid Calls Revealed Using The Source–Filter Theory, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

The source–filter theory is an important framework recently applied to the study of animal vocalisations, which links the mode of vocal production to call parameters. Vocalisations can be good indicators of a sender’s characteristics, such as identity, body size, age, and even hormonal status and affective states. For these reasons, applied vocal communication research would greatly benefit from adopting the source–filter theory approach to identify key call parameters linked to physical and physiological characteristics of domestic animals. Here, we introduce the source–filter theory through a detailed analysis and interpretation of goat contact calls during development. In ...


Human Head Orientation And Eye Visibility As Indicators Of Attention For Goats (Capra Hircus), Christian Nawroth, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Human Head Orientation And Eye Visibility As Indicators Of Attention For Goats (Capra Hircus), Christian Nawroth, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Animals domesticated for working closely with humans (e.g. dogs) have been shown to be remarkable in adjusting their behaviour to human attentional stance. However, there is little evidence for this form of information perception in species domesticated for production rather than companionship. We tested domestic ungulates (goats) for their ability to differentiate attentional states of humans. In the first experiment, we investigated the effect of body and head orientation of one human experimenter on approach behaviour by goats. Test subjects (N = 24) significantly changed their behaviour when the experimenter turned its back to the subjects, but did not take ...


Goats Excel At Learning And Remembering A Highly Novel Cognitive Task, Elodie F. Briefer, Samaah Haque, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Goats Excel At Learning And Remembering A Highly Novel Cognitive Task, Elodie F. Briefer, Samaah Haque, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Introduction: The computational demands of sociality (maintaining group cohesion, reducing conflict) and ecological problems (extractive foraging, memorizing resource locations) are the main drivers proposed to explain the evolution cognition. Different predictions follow, about whether animals would preferentially learn new tasks socially or not, but the prevalent view today is that intelligent species should excel at social learning. However, the predictions were originally used to explain primate cognition, and studies of species with relatively smaller brains are rare. By contrast, domestication has often led to a decrease in brain size, which could affect cognition. In domestic animals, the relaxed selection pressures ...


Mother--Offspring Recognition Via Contact Calls In Cattle, Bos Taurus, Mónica Padilla de la Torre, Elodie F. Briefer, Brad M. Ochocki, Alan G. McElligott, Tom Reader 2017 University of Nottingham

Mother--Offspring Recognition Via Contact Calls In Cattle, Bos Taurus, Mónica Padilla De La Torre, Elodie F. Briefer, Brad M. Ochocki, Alan G. Mcelligott, Tom Reader

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Individual recognition in gregarious species is fundamental in order to avoid misdirected parental investment. In ungulates, two very different parental care strategies have been identified: ‘hider’ offspring usually lie concealed in vegetation whereas offspring of ‘follower’ species remain with their mothers while they forage. These two strategies have been suggested to impact on mother--offspring vocal recognition, with unidirectional recognition of the mother by offspring occurring in hiders and bidirectional recognition in followers. In domestic cattle, Bos taurus, a facultative hider species, vocal communication and recognition have not been studied in detail under free-ranging conditions, where cows and calves can graze ...


Fallow Deer Polyandry Is Related To Fertilization Insurance, Elodie F. Briefer, Mary E. Farrell, Thomas J. Hayden, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Fallow Deer Polyandry Is Related To Fertilization Insurance, Elodie F. Briefer, Mary E. Farrell, Thomas J. Hayden, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Polyandry is widespread, but its adaptive significance is not fully understood. The hypotheses used to explain its persistence have rarely been tested in the wild and particularly for large, long-lived mammals. We investigated polyandry in fallow deer, using female mating and reproduction data gathered over 10 years. Females of this species produce a single offspring (monotocous) and can live to 23 years old. Overall, polyandry was evident in 12 % of females and the long-term, consistent proportion of polyandrous females observed, suggests that monandry and polyandry represent alternative mating strategies. Females were more likely to be polyandrous when their first mate ...


Quality Prevails Over Identity In The Sexually Selected Vocalisations Of An Ageing Mammal, Elodie F. Briefer, Elisabetta Vannoni, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Quality Prevails Over Identity In The Sexually Selected Vocalisations Of An Ageing Mammal, Elodie F. Briefer, Elisabetta Vannoni, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Background: Male sexually selected vocalisations generally contain both individuality and quality cues that are crucial in intra- as well as inter-sexual communication. As individuality is a fixed feature whereas male phenotypic quality changes with age, individuality and quality cues may be subjected to different selection pressures over time. Individuality (for example, morphology of the vocal apparatus) and quality (for example, body size and dominance status) can both affect the vocal production mechanism, inducing the same components of vocalisations to convey both kinds of information. In this case, do quality-related changes to the acoustic structure of calls induce a modification of ...


Goats Learn Socially From Humans In A Spatial Problem-Solving Task, Christian Nawroth, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Goats Learn Socially From Humans In A Spatial Problem-Solving Task, Christian Nawroth, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Domestication drives changes in animal cognition and behaviour. In particular, the capacity of dogs to socially learn from humans is considered a key outcome of how domestication shaped the canid brain. However, systematic evidence for social learning from humans in other domestic species is lacking and makes general conclusions about how domestication has affected cognitive abilities difficult. We assessed spatial and social problem-solving abilities in goats (Capra hircus) using a detour task, in which food was placed behind an inward or outward V-shaped hurdle. Goats performed better in the outward than in the inward detour without human demonstration. Importantly, a ...


Emotions In Goats: Mapping Physiological, Behavioural And Vocal Profiles, Elodie F. Briefer, Federico Tettamanti, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Emotions In Goats: Mapping Physiological, Behavioural And Vocal Profiles, Elodie F. Briefer, Federico Tettamanti, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Emotions are important because they enable the selection of appropriate behavioural decisions in response to external or internal events. Techniques for understanding and assessing animal emotions, and particularly positive ones, are lacking. Emotions can be characterized by two dimensions: their arousal (bodily excitation) and their valence (negative or positive). Both dimensions can affect emotions in different ways. It is thus crucial to assess their effects on biological parameters simultaneously, so that accurate indicators of arousal and valence can be identified. To find convenient and noninvasive tools to assess emotions in goats, Capra hircus, we measured physiological, behavioural and vocal responses ...


Goats Display Audience-Dependent Human-Directed Gazing Behaviour In A Problem-Solving Task, Christian Nawroth, Jemma M. Brett, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Goats Display Audience-Dependent Human-Directed Gazing Behaviour In A Problem-Solving Task, Christian Nawroth, Jemma M. Brett, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Domestication is an important factor driving changes in animal cognition and behaviour. In particular, the capacity of dogs to communicate in a referential and intentional way with humans is considered a key outcome of how domestication as a companion animal shaped the canid brain. However, the lack of comparison with other domestic animals makes general conclusions about how domestication has affected these important cognitive features difficult. We investigated human-directed behaviour in an ‘unsolvable problem’ task in a domestic, but non-companion species: goats. During the test, goats experienced a forward facing or an away facing person. They gazed towards the forward ...


Goats Favour Personal Over Social Information In An Experimental Foraging Task, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. McElligott, Elodie F. Briefer 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Goats Favour Personal Over Social Information In An Experimental Foraging Task, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. Mcelligott, Elodie F. Briefer

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Animals can use their environments more efficiently by selecting particular sources of information (personal or social), according to specific situations. Group-living animals may benefit from gaining information based on the behaviour of other individuals. Indeed, social information is assumed to be faster and less costly to use than personal information, thus increasing foraging efficiency. However, when food sources change seasonally or are randomly distributed, individual information may become more reliable than social information. The aim of this study was to test the use of conflicting personal versus social information in goats (Capra hircus), in a foraging task.We found that ...


Fallow Bucks Attend To Vocal Cues Of Motivation And Fatigue, Benjamin J. Pitcher, Elodie F. Briefer, Elisabetta Vannoni, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Fallow Bucks Attend To Vocal Cues Of Motivation And Fatigue, Benjamin J. Pitcher, Elodie F. Briefer, Elisabetta Vannoni, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Vocalizations encode a range of information about the caller, and variation in calling behavior and vocal structure may provide listeners with information about the motivation and condition of the caller. Fallow bucks only vocalize during the breeding season and can produce more than 3000 groans per hour. Males modulate their calling rates, calling faster when other calling males and/or females are nearby. Groans also reveal caller fatigue, becoming shorter and higher pitched toward the end of the rut. Thus, fallow deer groans vary both over very short (minute to minute) and longer timescales (the rut). However, no studies have ...


Cross-Modal Recognition Of Familiar Conspecifics In Goats, Benjamin J. Pitcher, Elodie F. Briefer, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. McElligott 2017 Queen Mary University of London

Cross-Modal Recognition Of Familiar Conspecifics In Goats, Benjamin J. Pitcher, Elodie F. Briefer, Luigi Baciadonna, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

When identifying other individuals, animals may match current cues with stored information about that individual from the same sensory modality. Animals may also be able to combine current information with previously acquired information from other sensory modalities, indicating that they possess complex cognitive templates of individuals that are independent of modality. We investigated whether goats (Capra hircus) possess cross-modal representations (auditory–visual) of conspecifics. We presented subjects with recorded conspecific calls broadcast equidistant between two individuals, one of which was the caller. We found that, when presented with a stablemate and another herd member, goats looked towards the caller sooner ...


Artificial Neural Network Approach For Revealing Individuality, Group Membership And Age Information In Goat Kid Contact Calls, Livio Favaro, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 University of Torino

Artificial Neural Network Approach For Revealing Individuality, Group Membership And Age Information In Goat Kid Contact Calls, Livio Favaro, Elodie F. Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Machine learning techniques are becoming an important tool for studying animal vocal communication. The goat (Capra hircus) is a very social species, in which vocal communication and recognition are important. We tested the reliability of a Multi-Layer Perceptron (feed-forward Artificial Neural Network, ANN) to automate the process of classification of calls according to individual identity, group membership and maturation in this species. Vocalisations were obtained from 10 half-sibling (same father but different mothers) goat kids, belonging to 3 distinct social groups. We recorded 157 contact calls emitted during first week, and 164 additional calls recorded from the same individuals at ...


Assortative Mating In Fallow Deer Reduces The Strength Of Sexual Selection, Mary E. Farrell, Elodie Briefer, Alan G. McElligott 2017 University of the West of England

Assortative Mating In Fallow Deer Reduces The Strength Of Sexual Selection, Mary E. Farrell, Elodie Briefer, Alan G. Mcelligott

Alan G. McElligott, PhD

Background: Assortative mating can help explain how genetic variation for male quality is maintained even in highly polygynous species. Here, we present a longitudinal study examining how female and male ages, as well as male social dominance, affect assortative mating in fallow deer (Dama dama) over 10 years. Assortative mating could help explain the substantial proportion of females that do not mate with prime-aged, high ranking males, despite very high mating skew. We investigated the temporal pattern of female and male matings, and the relationship between female age and the age and dominance of their mates.

Results: The peak of ...


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