Individual identity is communicated through multiple pathways in male rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) songs

Lee Koren, Eli Geffen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Communicating individual identity is essential for stable social systems. It is assumed that there are benefits for both senders and receivers to provide and discriminate identity cues. In this study, we investigate the possible routes senders use to acoustically broadcast their individual identity. Using discriminant function analysis of temporal and spectral acoustic measurements and analysis of song-element order, we explore the means male rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) singers utilize vocalization to express individual identity. Despite the fact that males use only three song elements, the pattern of acoustic characteristics, their temporal and frequency attributes vary according to the identity of singer. We show that in hyrax, individuality is expressed by highly variable, complex signals that are not condition dependent and are stable over years in singers that did not alter their spatial position. We also show that individuality signals are not linked to relatedness or to geographic location. The ability to discriminate individuals from vocal signatures needs to be further tested using controlled playback experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-684
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We are obliged to B. Sanzenbacher, I. Aravot, and E. Tauber for their extensive help with the trapping of the hyraxes as well as to the many project students, field guides, and park rangers who helped in the field. We wish to thank the Nature and Parks Authority for permission to work at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and the Ein Gedi Field School for their hospitality and logistic help. Stacey L. Lance from Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, SC and Jesús E. Maldonado from The Smithsonian Institution generously assisted in the setup of microsatellite libraries. Amiyaal Ilani, M. Ross Lein, and two anonymous reviewers provided excellent comments. This study was supported by two grants from the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (ISF 577/99 and 488/05).


  • Acoustic communication
  • Identity signals
  • Individual recognition
  • Microsatellites
  • Sender signals


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