When ground squirrels cry badger. (Biology).
The boy who cries wolf isn't the only one who loses credibility. Burrowing squirrels known as Richardson's ground squirrels pay less attention to alarms from a neighbor associated with false signals than to calls from a source with a better record, says James F. Hare of University of Manitoba Location
The main Fort Garry campus is a complex on the Red River in south Winnipeg. It has an area of 2.74 square kilometres. More than 60 major buildings support the teaching and research programs of the university. in Winnipeg.
A group of these ground squirrels shares a tangle of tunnels, and any squirrel that spots a badger, coyote coyote (kī`ōt, kīō`tē) or prairie wolf, small, swift wolf, Canis latrans, native to W North America. It is found in deserts, prairies, open woodlands, and brush country; it is also called brush wolf. , or other menace gives a call that Hare describes as sounding a lot like "eek." Hare had accidentally discovered that he could elicit eeks by tossing his hat toward a youngster.
To test whether the ground squirrels heed different alarms more or less, Hare recorded a selection of prompted eeks.
Hare and his colleague Brent A. Atkins then created a reliable alarm by playing eeks from a particular individual while wheeling a stuffed badger toward the colony. To impersonate im·per·son·ate
tr.v. im·per·son·at·ed, im·per·son·at·ing, im·per·son·ates
1. To assume the character or appearance of, especially fraudulently: impersonate a police officer.
2. chronic false alarmers, the researchers played calls recorded from another individual but didn't present the badger.
By the tenth false alarm, the animals stopped assuming the kind of vigilant behavior associated with genuine threats. The calls linked to the stuffed-badger treatment, however, continued to elicit intense responses even without the badger.
Hare and Atkins report their results in a forthcoming issue of BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY Behavioral ecology
The branch of ecology that focuses on the evolutionary causes of variation in behavior among populations and species. Thus it is concerned with the adaptiveness of behavior, the ultimate questions of why animals behave as they do, rather AND SOCIOBIOLOGY sociobiology, controversial field that studies how natural selection, previously used only to explain the evolution of physical characteristics, shapes behavior in animals and humans. . --S.M.