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Contact Admin. Manser, Adult meerkats modify close call rate in the presence of pups, Current Zoology , Volume 63, Issue 3, June , Pages —, https: In animals, signaling behavior is often context-dependent, with variation in the probability of emitting certain signals dependent on fitness advantages.
Senders may adjust signaling rate depending on receiver identity, presence of audiences, or noise masking the signal, all of which can affect the benefits and costs of signal production. Here, we investigated how the close calling rate during foraging was affected by the presence of pups, that produce continuous, noisy begging calls as they follow older group members.
Adults decreased their overall close call rate substantially when pups were foraging with the group in comparison to periods when no pups were present.
We suggest this decrease was likely due to a masking effect of the loud begging calls, which makes the close call function of maintaining group cohesion partly redundant as the centrally located begging calls can be used instead to maintain cohesion.
There was some support that adults use close calls strategically to attract specific pups based on fitness advantages, that is, as the philopatric sex, females should call more than males and more to female pups than male pups.