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Female red deer prefer the roars of larger males.

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  • Musicology
  • Physics


Surprisingly little is known about the role of acoustic cues in mammal female mate choice. Here, we examine the response of female red deer (Cervus elaphus) to male roars in which an acoustic cue to body size, the formants, has been re-scaled to simulate different size callers. Our results show that oestrous red deer hinds prefer roars simulating larger callers and constitute the first evidence that female mammals use an acous- tic cue to body size in a mate choice context. We go on to suggest that sexual selection through female mating preferences may have provided an additional selection pressure along with male male competition for broadcasting size-related information in red deer and other mammals.

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