A study of mammalian vocalizations in lead-up to copulations using giant pandas as an example

October 31, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research and the China Research and Conservation Centre for the Giant Panda has found that vocalizations play an important role in the lead-up to copulation with giant pandas. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study of vocalizations leading up to copulation in giant pandas and what they learned.

A lot of research has been conducted on that are a part of mating rituals in mammals, but what about vocalizations that occur after a potential mate has responded? That is what the researchers with this new effort wanted to know. Do such vocalizations play a role in the success or failure of a given mating attempt? And if so, in what ways? To find the answers to these questions, the researchers chose to study the rituals of giant pandas as they were about to engage in intercourse.

To learn more about how vocalizations are used once a male and female are engaged in the lead-up to copulation, the researchers focused their study on 23 adult giant pandas living near Sichuan, China. The animals were monitored during the breeding season over the years 2016 to 2018. The team used microphones set up in the area to record the sounds the giant pandas made as they went about their .

The researchers found patterns in the noises made by their subjects—some noises and the way they were expressed led to successful mating. Other noises, on the other hand, led to failure. They noted also that giant pandas vocalized in different ways—some vocalizations were expressed softly into the ear during intercourse, as one example, an act the researchers described as sort of a love song. They suggest the vocalizations are an important means for achieving synchrony and expressing intentions.

The researchers suggest their findings could help those involved in assisting with panda reproduction efforts. It could also help prevent violent conflicts that sometimes arise between when rituals go awry.

Explore further: Study shows levels of panda hearing

More information: Benjamin D. Charlton et al. Vocal behaviour predicts mating success in giant pandas, Royal Society Open Science (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181323

Related Stories

Study shows levels of panda hearing

March 22, 2016

A study published in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation may help field conservationists better understand the potential for human activities to disturb endangered giant pandas in native habitats. Using pandas located ...

China giant panda gives birth to twins

June 22, 2016

A giant panda in China has given birth to two cubs, conservation authorities said, the first twins of the critically endangered species this year even though multiple births are common.

Pandas mate with help at the National Zoo

March 24, 2008

U.S. veterinarians have artificially inseminated Mei Xiang, a female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, after natural mating was unsuccessful.

Recommended for you

Activating a new understanding of gene regulation

November 19, 2018

Regulation of gene expression—turning genes on or off, increasing or decreasing their expression—is critical for defining cell identity during development and coordinating cellular activity throughout the cell's lifetime. ...

Geneticists solve long-standing finch beak mystery

November 19, 2018

Bridgett vonHoldt is best known for her work with dogs and wolves, so she was surprised when a bird biologist pulled her aside and said, "I really think you can help me solve this problem." So she turned to a mystery he'd ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.