Vocal rate as an assessment process during fallow deer contests

D.J. Jennings, R.W. Elwood, C.M. Carlin, T.J. Hayden, M.P. Gammell

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16 Citations (Scopus)
361 Downloads (Pure)


Two types of model propose that strategic decisions during contests are determined either by (i) a mutual-assessment process or (ii) a self-assessment process. Vocal signals are thought to convey information about the competitive abilities of individuals, the ultimate function of which is a reduction in costs associated with fighting consistent with the principle of mutual assessment. Nevertheless, the limited evidence that male ungulates engage in mutual assessment of vocal rates during dyadic contests has been questioned. Therefore, we examined the vocal rates of winners and losers during escalated dyadic contests between male fallow deer in order to further inform on this issue. Our results showed that winners and losers did not differ in vocal rate. The best model fit that accounted for individual vocal rates included a preponderance of factors related to the opponent indicating that contestants were attending to their opponent during fights. Vocal rate was, therefore, dependent on estimates of opponent quality without reference to self, supporting an 'opponent-only' rather than a mutual assessment process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-158
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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