June 23, 2024

Meerkats say a lot – but don’t always expect the answers – science

the animals

From the Environmental Protection Agency

Bulletin – Meerkats live in the dry areas of South Africa. Photography: Vlad Demartsev/DPA

Meerkats are not only constantly wandering around, but they are also chattering to themselves. Thanks to technology-packed collars, researchers have now been able to decipher the meaning of some sounds.

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Constance (dpa). Meerkats are true revolutionaries, but they don’t always expect an answer. Sometimes they just want to say “I’m here,” report researchers at the University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Biology. However, during what is called a “close call,” the animals are eager to start a conversation.

Meerkats live in groups, and work “very hard to stay together,” says Vlad Demartsev of the Max Planck Institute. The animals also move around most of the day and make a variety of sounds as they walk or run.

The team led by Demartsev and Ariana Strandberg-Peshkin from the University of Konstanz has decoded the use of two of these sounds. The aim of “short notes”, which are usually unanswered, is to inform the entire group – chatty “close calls”, on the other hand, are intended to chat with a specific member of the group.

The collars record audio data continuously

The team studied meerkats in several groups at a research center in South Africa. The animals were given collars that recorded audio data continuously, and their positions were recorded every second via GPS. The researchers were able to find out which animal made which noise, when and where.

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“We saw that with a close call, there is a very high probability that the neighboring animal will respond in less than half a second,” Demartsev explained. This pattern does not exist with short notes: “Everyone calls at about the same time and there is no structure.” The team published their findings in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for Biological Sciences.

Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) live in the dry areas of southern Africa. Each group contains about 20 animals. The dominant male and dominant female make up about 80 percent of the total offspring, and are then raised together by group members. The animals live in earthen burrows whose entrances are guarded.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:240520-99-96100/2