Monday, June 20, 2011
Now a report reveals that female giant pandas use chirp calls to inform male pandas exactly how fertile they are.
The discovery suggests that panda vocal signals are more important than thought, and will aid conservation of the endangered animal, scientists say.
The researchers from the US and China publish their research in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
During their short breeding season, female giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) make high pitched calls that are thought to solicit male attention.
Given the brief window of opportunity for mating, selection should favour female giant pandas who are able to advertise their fertility and for males who accurately read the female calls.
For female giant pandas who can only conceive on a few days once a year, being able to say 'when' is vital.
However, the information content and detailed function of the 'chirp' and 'bleat' vocalisations has remained a mystery.
To investigate, the research team recorded vocalisations of captive giant pandas in China and the US.
Using these audio recordings and a knowledge of individuals' reproductive cycles, they reveal that panda calls signal the precise timing of female fertility.