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Barking in a Primitive Ungulate, Muntiacus reevesi: Function and Adaptiveness

Richard H. Yahner
The American Naturalist
Vol. 116, No. 2 (Aug., 1980), pp. 157-177
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2460670
Page Count: 21
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Barking in a Primitive Ungulate, Muntiacus reevesi: Function and Adaptiveness
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Abstract

Barking bouts by muntjacs are given most often when visibility is reduced due to environmental conditions. Some individuals bark more readily than others, and various parameters associated with barking bouts overlap considerably among individuals. Barking in muntjacs probably does not function in the contexts of food procurement, reproduction, or maintenance and monitoring of individual movements. Rather, barking occurs primarily in two major contexts: during certain social encounters and when novel or inconspicuous stimuli, such as a hidden predator, are detected in the environment. Barking appears to have evolved via individual selection. Although the physical properties of barking bouts are such that they may make a muntjac more conspicuous and easily localized, this response to potential danger may act to deter predation. The underlying causal factor linking the two major contexts in which barks are given may be an internal state of anxiety. Anxiety, and hence barking, occurs more often in muntjacs which are characterized by specific behavioral profiles. Barking is proposed to be better termed a distress call than an alarm call.

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