Female mice respond to male ultrasonic 'songs' with approach behaviour

2009 | journal article

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​Female mice respond to male ultrasonic 'songs' with approach behaviour​
Hammerschmidt, K. ; Radyushkin, K.; Ehrenreich, H.   & Fischer, J. ​ (2009) 
Biology Letters5(5) pp. 589​-592​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0317 

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Hammerschmidt, Kurt ; Radyushkin, Konstantin; Ehrenreich, Hannelore ; Fischer, J. 
The ultrasonic vocalizations of mice are attracting increasing attention, because they have been recognized as an informative readout in genetically modified strains. In addition, the observation that male mice produce elaborate sequences of ultrasonic vocalizations ('song') when exposed to female mice or their scents has sparked a debate as to whether these sounds are--in terms of their structure and function--analogous to bird song. We conducted playback experiments with cycling female mice to explore the function of male mouse songs. Using a place preference design, we show that these vocalizations elicited approach behaviour in females. In contrast, the playback of whistle-like artificial control sounds did not evoke approach responses. Surprisingly, the females also did not respond to pup isolation calls. In addition, female responses did not vary in relation to reproductive cycle, i.e. whether they were in oestrus or not. Furthermore, our data revealed a rapid habituation of subjects to the experimental situation, which stands in stark contrast to other species' responses to courtship vocalizations. Nevertheless, our results clearly demonstrate that male mouse songs elicit females' interest.
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Biology Letters 



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