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Male mice sing songs to woo females

Washington, Fri, 27 Jan 2012 ANI

Washington, Jan 27 (ANI): Researchers have found that male house mice produce melodious songs to attract potential mates.


The researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna found through spectrographic analyses of the vocalizations of wild house mice, that the songs of male mice contain signals of individuality and kinship.


Since the melodies are in the ultra-sonic range human ears cannot detect them.


It has been known for some time that house mice (Mus musculus) produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) during courtship but it has generally been assumed that these are no more than squeaks.


However, recent spectrographic analyses have revealed that USVs are complex and show features of songs.


Although the vocalizations are inaudible to human ears, when playbacks of recorded songs are slowed down their similarity to bird song becomes striking.


Frauke Hoffmann, Kerstin Musolf and Dustin Penn of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna's Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology aimed to learn what type of information is contained in males' songs for the discerning ear of the female mouse to detect.


Their initial studies, the first to study song in wild mice, confirmed that males emit songs when they encounter a females' scent and that females are attracted to males' songs.


Additionally, the scientists discovered that females are able to distinguish siblings from unrelated males by their songs - even though they had previously never heard their brothers sing.


In their recent studies, Penn's group recorded and analysed the courtship calls of wild-caught male house mice for the first time, using digital audio software to examine parameters such as duration, pitch and frequency.


They found that males' songs contain "signatures" or "fingerprints" that differ from one individual to another.


Moreover, they confirmed that the songs of siblings are very similar to one another compared to the songs of unrelated males, which helps explains how females can distinguish unrelated males.


The study is published in the journal 'Physiology and Behavior' and in the 'Journal of Ethology'. (ANI)


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