Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny crooners: Male house mice sing songs to impress the girls

Date:
January 26, 2012
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
It comes as a surprise to many that male house mice produce melodious songs to attract mates.  Unfortunately for us, because the melodies are in the ultra-sonic range human ears cannot detect them.  Through spectrographic analyses of the vocalizations of wild house mice, researchers have found that the songs of male mice contain signals of individuality and kinship. 

It comes as a surprise to many that male house mice produce melodious songs to attract mates.
Credit: © Sergii Figurnyi / Fotolia

It comes as a surprise to many that male house mice produce melodious songs to attract mates.  Unfortunately for us, because the melodies are in the ultra-sonic range human ears cannot detect them.  Through spectrographic analyses of the vocalizations of wild house mice, researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna  have found that the songs of male mice contain signals of individuality and kinship. 

Their results appear in the journal Physiology & Behavior and in the Journal of Ethology.

It has been known for some time that house mice (Mus musculus) produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) during courtship but it has generally been assumed that these are no more than squeaks. However, recent spectrographic analyses have revealed that USVs are complex and show features of song.  Although the vocalizations are inaudible to human ears, when playbacks of recorded songs are slowed down their similarity to bird song becomes striking.  Frauke Hoffmann, Kerstin Musolf and Dustin Penn of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna’s  Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology aimed to learn what type of information is contained in males’ songs for the discerning ear of the female mouse to detect.  Their initial studies, the first to study song in wild mice, confirmed that males emit songs when they encounter a females’ scent and that females are attracted to males’ songs.  Additionally, the scientists discovered that females are able to distinguish siblings from unrelated males by their songs – even though they had previously never heard their brothers sing.

In their recent studies, Penn’s group recorded and analysed the courtship calls of wild-caught male house mice for the first time, using digital audio software to examine parameters such as duration, pitch and frequency.  They found that males’ songs contain “signatures” or “fingerprints” that differ from one individual to another.  Moreover, they confirmed that the songs of siblings are very similar to one another compared to the songs of unrelated males, which helps explains how females can distinguish unrelated males.  This finding could potentially lead us to understand how female mice avoid inbreeding. 

Interestingly, in some species of birds the males with the most complex songs appear to be most successful at attracting females.  Further studies are needed to determine whether the complexity of male mouse vocalizations has an effect on females that is similar to that of “sexy syllables” in birds.

The vocalizations of wild house mice differ significantly from those of inbred strains of laboratory mice.  Wild male mice produce more syllables within high frequency ranges than laboratory mice, a result that is consistent with other studies that find genetic effects on mouse song. “It seems as though house mice might provide a new model organism for the study of song in animals,” says Dustin Penn.  “Who would have thought that?”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Frauke Hoffmann, Kerstin Musolf, Dustin J. Penn. Spectrographic analyses reveal signals of individuality and kinship in the ultrasonic courtship vocalizations of wild house mice. Physiology & Behavior, 2012; 105 (3): 766 DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.10.011
  2. Frauke Hoffmann, Kerstin Musolf, Dustin J. Penn. Ultrasonic courtship vocalizations in wild house mice: spectrographic analyses. Journal of Ethology, 2011; 30 (1): 173 DOI: 10.1007/s10164-011-0312-y

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Tiny crooners: Male house mice sing songs to impress the girls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120126100633.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2012, January 26). Tiny crooners: Male house mice sing songs to impress the girls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120126100633.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Tiny crooners: Male house mice sing songs to impress the girls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120126100633.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) — An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins