Vocalizations of many mammalian species have been reported to encode information about caller identity. In this study, we analyzed 300 alarm calls from 10 free-living European Ground Squirrels Spermophilus citellus (30 per individual) and 300 alarm calls from 10 free-living Taurus Ground Squirrels S. taurensis (30 per individual), and tested the potential of these calls to encode information about the callers' identities. Discriminant analysis including all 10 European Ground Squirrel individuals correctly classified 98% of calls, and cross-validation reached a classification success of 97%. Correct classification of 98% and cross-validation of 98% was assigned when the analysis included only those individuals producing calls consisting of both elements (eight individuals). For the Taurus Ground Squirrel, correct classification was 95% and cross-validation 94% for all 10 animals. When only those individuals producing calls consisting of both elements were included (eight individuals), discriminant analysis led to 94% correct classification and cross-validation produced a classification success of 93%. These analyses demonstrate that the structure of alarm calls in these two closely related species is highly variable and that it has significant potential to encode information about caller identity.
alarm calls, ground squirrels, Spermophilus citellus, Spermophilus taurensis, individual variability