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The skuas' communication system

Skuas have a complex and rich communication system, based on visual and acoustic displays that in the pair formation and bond maintenance, in the territory defence, and in the rearing of the chicks.

The long call display

The skua long call display

Due to the skuas behavioour, it isa rather easy to record their vocalizations and displays. We are studying the recordings to understand their acoustic structure, and its relationships with the individual phenotype. Calls can not only help in individual recognition and maintenance of the pair bond, but they can also communicate information about the individual strenght and quality that can be used for mate competition and partner choice.

Skua's recording

Recording a skua's vocalizations during an aerial display

There is a large individual variation in the structure of the calls. The following is just a small samples of the vocalizaztions emitted by skuas at Sea Lion Island.

Display vocalization

Skua sound

Play display vocalization

 

Distress vocalizzaztion

skua_sound_02

Play distress vocalization

 

Chick call

Chicks use vocalizations to maintain contact with parents, to beg for food, and to express distress.

Play chick vocalization