studying acoustic communication in giraffe
In social animal species, vocal communication is a crucial aspect of information exchange. Giraffes live in such dynamic societies, but the importance of vocalizations in mediating their social interactions or regulating group compositions is an underexplored aspect of giraffe behavior and ecology.
Despite the fact that giraffes produce a variety of audible sounds such as growls, snorts, bursts, and hisses, scientists are still intrigued about how and when giraffes communicate with one another.
Hit the play button for a sound sample!
Colleagues and I discovered giraffe humming in three different zoo giraffe groups. The novel and important finding that this audible and low frequency vocalization was exclusively produced at night has altered our understanding of giraffe communication. It begs the question of whether giraffes are more talkative when their ability to perceive visual communication cues from other group members is limited. As the hum’s communicative function is uncertain, this provides a focus for more research on giraffe vocal communication. No follow-up research attempts were made to explore the functional relevance of auditory signals for giraffes to date.
GIRAFFE OUT LOUD is an ambitious pioneer research project that combines zoo and field research to further our knowledge of the importance of acoustics to giraffe behavior and ecology. The scientific findings can potentially help zoos to better meet the needs of their giraffe as well as provide knowledge-based increased conservation for this iconic and threatened species.
More information to follow!
This project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and hosted by the Acoustic Research Institute (ARI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).