Parent-embryo acoustic communication: a specialised heat vocalisation allowing embryonic eavesdropping

Mariette, Mylene, Pessato, Anais, Buttemer, William A., McKechnie, Andrew E., Udino, Eve, Collins, Rodney, Meillere, Alizee, Bennett, Andrew and Buchanan, Katherine 2018, Parent-embryo acoustic communication: a specialised heat vocalisation allowing embryonic eavesdropping, Scientific reports, vol. 8, no. 1, doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35853-y.

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Title Parent-embryo acoustic communication: a specialised heat vocalisation allowing embryonic eavesdropping
Author(s) Mariette, MyleneORCID iD for Mariette, Mylene
Pessato, Anais
Buttemer, William A.
McKechnie, Andrew E.
Udino, Eve
Collins, Rodney
Meillere, AlizeeORCID iD for Meillere, Alizee
Bennett, AndrewORCID iD for Bennett, Andrew
Buchanan, KatherineORCID iD for Buchanan, Katherine
Journal name Scientific reports
Volume number 8
Issue number 1
Article ID 17721
Total pages 7
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2018-12-07
ISSN 2045-2322
Keyword(s) Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Summary Sound is arguably the external cue most accessible to embryos of many species, and as such may constitute an unrivalled source of early information. Recent evidence shows that prenatal sounds, similarly to maternal effects, may shape developmental trajectories. Establishing whether parental vocalisations are signals directed at embryos, or parental cues on which embryos eavesdrop, can elucidate whether parents or embryos control developmental outcomes. Prenatal exposure to a characteristic heat-related parental call was recently shown to alter zebra finch growth and fitness. Here, we test the ecological context of this behaviour in the wild, and assess the information value and specificity of this vocalisation for an embryonic audience. We show that wild zebra finches also produce this characteristic call, only at high temperatures. In addition, in the lab, we demonstrate experimentally that calling is specifically triggered by high air temperatures, can occur without an embryonic audience, and importantly, is predicted by individuals' body mass. Overall, our findings reveal a specialised heat vocalisation that enables embryonic eavesdropping, by indicating high ambient temperatures, and parents' capacity to cope with such conditions. This challenges the traditional view of embryos as passive agents of their development, and opens exciting research avenues on avian adaptation to extreme heat.
Language eng
DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-35853-y
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2018, The Authors
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