Zoom Animals Animal Care Rhythm Reproductive Success in Male Rock Hyrax

Rhythm Reproductive Success in Male Rock Hyrax

A behavioral study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology linked the reproductive success of male damans to their ability to keep up during courtship.

It is enough to look at the fans of famous musicians to understand that rhythmic abilities are a desirable trait. For males of Rosh Daman, the frequency and rhythm of singing can be considered as indicators of the individual quality of potential partners, indicating information about their health and fitness as a partner.

“We have been studying Daman for 20 years and have already discovered several patterns in his songs that are common features of human speech and music,” said Dr. Vlad Demartsev, now a researcher at the Institute of Biology at the University of Constance. and the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior, which collected data for the study. The data for this study were obtained during his stay at Tel Aviv University.

“There are regional dialects in their songs, so people living nearby sing to each other more in the same way. They tend to sing a crescendo (getting louder and louder as the song progresses) and reach maximum difficulty towards the end of their songs, perhaps to interest the audience and listen to the lines.

Rhythm plays a crucial role in the communication of some animals. “One of the hypotheses is that the rhythm has evolved in such a way that the animals they call in a group can better synchronize their songs, for example, musicians in a group or singers in a choir,” says Dr. Demartsev.

However, unlike many other animals that are known to communicate by singing, damans usually sing alone.

To investigate the role of rhythm in mammalian courtship songs, scientists studied the daily morning activity of daman communities between 2002 and 2013 in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve in eastern Israel. The researchers collected information about the location, behavior and vocalization of each daman, recording the identities of their closest neighbors. Then the genetic information of each daman was analyzed using audio recordings in the laboratory.

Vocalization of a male stone daman in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Lee Koren
Publishing their results, the researchers showed that male damans maintain a stable isochronous rhythm while singing, while sounds occur at regular intervals.

Dr. Lee Koren, co-founder of the Daman study with Dr. Eli Geffen, and now a researcher at the School of Natural Sciences at Bar-Ilan University, said: “Daman males who sing more often tend to have more surviving offspring. Rhythms and stability of songs are associated with reproductive success and, therefore, may contain information about individual quality””

Vocalization of a male stone daman in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Lee Koren
Since some physiological conditions can negatively affect the ability of a daman to emit precise rhythmic calls, researchers suggest that the rhythm of the mating chants of a male daman may be an indicator of health and the ability to mate with potential female partners.

Regarding the future of this field of research, Dr. Vlad Demartsev said: “It would be interesting to compare animal species that sing individually and species that sing in groups.”

It has now been shown that in some species rhythm serves as an indicator of individual quality, while in others it helps coordinate the signals of different individuals in a group. However, it is not yet known whether different rhythmic patterns are used for these two different functions.

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