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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Individuality in houbara chick calls and its dynamics along ontogeny

C. Cornec*, Y. Hingrat, V. Planas-Bielsa, H. Abi Hussein, F. Rybak

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In many taxa, breeding success depends heavily on reliable vocal recognition between parents and offspring. Although the acoustic basis of this recognition has been explored in several species, few studies have examined the evolution of acoustic cues to identity across development. Here, in a captive breeding program, we investigate for the first time the acoustic signals produced by North African houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata undulata) chicks. Two call types (contact and distress) were recorded from 15 chicks at 4 age classes. Acoustic analyses show that the acoustic parameters of the calls vary systematically with age in both contact and distress calls. However, both call types remain highly stereotyped and individualized between chicks at every tested age, indicating that calls encode reliable information about individual identity throughout development, thus potentially enabling the mother to distinguish her own chicks throughout their development up to fledging. Future playback experiments are now needed to verify such parent–chick recognition in houbara bustards and its efficiency across chick ontogeny.