Behaviour 2019
The specificity of California mouse pup vocalizations in response to olfactory cues  
Kerianne Wilson, Victoria Wagner, Wendy Saltzman. University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, United States

In rodents, young pups communicate with their parents through harmonic calls and ultrasonic vocalizations. These forms of communication can improve chances of survival since pups rely on their parents for thermoregulation, nutrition and protection. While variation in pup vocalizations has been observed based on factors such as pup age and physical contact with parents, the extent to which pup calls convey situation-specific information remains unclear. To assess plasticity of pup vocalizations, California mouse (Peromyscus californicus) pups were isolated and audio recorded. Following an initial, 3-minute control recording, pups were exposed for 5 minutes to bedding containing one of 4 olfactory cues: scent from their home cage, scent from the home cage of an age-matched family, coyote urine or no scent. Latency to call, call rate, call duration and call characteristics (e.g. frequency and amplitude) were compared between the control period and olfactory exposure period as well as among olfactory conditions. Results from this study will further our understanding of plasticity in newborn vocalizations and environmental factors influencing this plasticity.