at night. Although previous studies have described the vocal repertoire of some shearwater species, there is a need for more precise experimental data investigating the biological relevance of these acoustic signals in this seabird group. The present paper focuses on the vocal behaviour of the Yelkouan shearwater Puffinus yelkouan, a poorly studied species which produces a single major call composed of two notes, a noisy note and a clear one. A quantitative analysis of the calls allowed to extract the acoustic parameters supporting both sexual and individual signatures. Playback experiments were conducted during the incubation period to test the ability of the Yelkouan shearwater (1) to vocally identify the sex of the emitter, and (2) to discriminate the mate from a non-mate. We showed that birds discriminate the sex of the emitter, calling back almost exclusively to calls of birds of the same sex. Among the few birds replying to calls of the opposite sex, females responded to calls of their partner only, whereas males responded equally to calls of the partner or to calls of a
non-partner, suggesting that females are vocally more selective than males.
acoustic communication, sex discrimination, mate recognition, seabirds, shearwaters