Ultrasonic vocalization by female mice in the presence of a conspecific carrying food cues

Anna Moles, Francesca R. D'Amato

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In female mice, Mus domesticus, reunion with a same-sex conspecific is associated with intense ultrasonic vocalization. We examined whether the palatability of a familiar food eaten by a demonstrator mouse and the motivational state of the conspecific observer could modulate the number of ultrasonic calls uttered during female-female interaction in NMRI mice. A pilot study indicated that these calls were uttered almost exclusively by the observer member of the pair. Observers were either food deprived or not deprived and demonstrators were offered either no food, a palatable diet or an unpalatable diet. We monitored both the number of ultrasounds (range 65-75 kHz) uttered and a series of behavioural parameters during the first 3 min of social interaction after 24 h of separation. Observers investigated the nose area of demonstrators fed on the unpalatable diet more than the same area of demonstrators not given food. No differences were found in demonstrators' behaviour. Ultrasonic calls were given immediately after female-female reunion and were affected by both the motivational state of the observer and the salience of the information carried by the conspecific. These results suggest that the motivational state of the observer affects ultrasonic calling towards a demonstrator conspecific. Nondeprived animals produced more calls towards demonstrators fed on palatable food, whereas food-deprived subjects vocalized more to fed conspecifics, independently of the palatability of the food eaten by the demonstrator. We suggest that ultrasonic vocalization in female mice can facilitate proximity with a conspecific and the number of these calls is modulated by the salience of the information carried by the companion. (C) 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-694
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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