The jump-yip display, vigilance, and foraging behaviour of the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)
Senkiw, Robert William
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The contagious nature of the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) jump-yip display may provide information to signalers and receivers regarding the vigilance of neighbours. Videotaping jump-yip bouts and the behaviour of both bout initiators and respondents within those bouts provided evidence that: 1) individuals became vigilant immediately following jump-yip production, but exhibited minimal changes in their immediate post-jump-yip behaviour with changes in the characteristics of the preceding bout, 2) bout initiators spent more time actively foraging and exhibited vigilance behaviours less frequently with greater levels of response in the preceding jump-yip bout, 3) respondents spent more time actively foraging and less time vigilant following bouts with greater response. These results suggest that black-tailed prairie dogs base behavioural decisions at least in part on the characteristics of their jump-yip bouts and thus the jump yip display may provide information about the vigilance of group members.