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Possible use of heterospecific food-associated calls of macaques by sika deer for foraging efficiency.

  • Koda, Hiroki
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2012
Kyoto University Research Information Repository


Heterospecific communication signals sometimes convey relevant information for animal survival. For example, animals use or eavesdrop on heterospecific alarm calls concerning common predators. Indeed, most observations have been reported regarding anti-predator strategies. Use of heterospecific signals has rarely been observed as part of a foraging strategy. Here, I report empirical evidence, collected using playback experiments, showing that Japanese sika deer, Cevus nippon, use heterospecific food calls of Japanese macaques, Macaca fuscata yakui, for foraging efficiency. The deer and macaques both inhabit the wild forest of Yakushima Island with high population densities and share many food items. Anecdotal observations suggest that deer often wait to browse fruit falls under the tree where a macaque group is foraging. Furthermore, macaques frequently produce food calls during their foraging. If deer effectively obtain fruit from the leftovers of macaques, browsing fruit fall would provide a potential benefit to the deer, and, further, deer are likely to associate macaque food calls with feeding activity. The results showed that playback of macaque food calls under trees gathered significantly more deer than silence control periods. These results suggest that deer can associate macaque food calls with foraging activities and use heterospecific calls for foraging efficiency.

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