In most mammals, adults produce relatively low frequency vocalizations compared to those of juveniles. This rule is not maintained however at least in four species of ground squirrels, whose juveniles call at the adult's fundamental frequency. These findings have been obtained however with separate sets of juveniles and adults and no data is available concerning the ontogeny linked to these differences. Here we analyze the acoustic structure of alarm calls of the same Yellow Spermophilus fulvus and Speckled S. suslicus ground squirrel individuals, recorded as pups and as adults after hibernation. We found the fundamental frequencies of adults within the same frequency ranges as those of pups, in spite of the significant difference in body mass. In ground squirrels, severing the relationship between body size and call frequency removes some vocal cues to age. We discuss some functional hypotheses advanced to explain manipulations with fundamental frequencies in ground squirrels and other animals, and suggest the lack of data for discussing the mechanisms of such vocal tuning.
maturation, anti-predatory behaviour, vocalization, alarm call, rodent, Spermophilus, ground squirrel