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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Among birds and mammals, vocalizations warning of predators serve an important survival function, especially for young animals particularly vulnerable to predation. Because natural selection may favor plasticity in survival strategies, allowing adjustments to temporal or spatial variation in predators, antipredator behaviors are often learned rather than fully formed when young first encounter predators. The mechanisms shaping the ontogeny of survival skills are surveyed here, in particular the development of responses to alarm calls. These include social, acoustic, and hormonal factors as well as direct and indirect experiences with predators. In addition, the communicative functions of alarm-call systems are discussed, such as referential signaling and response urgency. Finally, the sources of plasticity in the development of antipredator behavior and the costs and benefits of such plasticity in a range of species are discussed.

Keywords: vocalization warnings, survival, predation, antipredator behavior, alarm calls, referential signaling

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