Behaviour 2019
Selective squeaks: Female mouse “rejection” calls vary depending on male courtship experience
Skylar Harwick1, Shannon Perry2, Jessica L. Hanson3, Laura M. Hurley2, Sarah M. Keesom1. 1Utica College, Utica, NY, United States; 2Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, United States; 3NYU Langone Health, New York, NY, United States

Many animals use vocalizations to communicate during social interactions. During courtship encounters between mice (Mus musculus), females emit broadband vocalizations (BBVs), which serve as a signal of rejection towards males. BBVs also contain information about female reproductive state through vocal nonlinearities. Thus, BBVs are important signals of female receptivity during courtship; however, whether females alter the use of BBVs depending on male characteristics is unknown. We therefore investigated whether female BBVs differ depending on an important male quality: courtship experience. In this study, we placed female mice in 10-minute interactions with naive and experienced males, and we used spectrographic analysis to assess BBVs. While there was no difference in the total number of female BBVs depending on male experience, the acoustic structure of BBVs did differ. Females emitted BBVs with more subharmonic nonlinearities during interactions with experienced versus naive males. These findings support the idea that BBVs are a significant component of female behavior during courtship, and suggest that BBVs may also change depending on female preference towards males.