Meaning and Emotion, Vocalization in the Animal Kingdom

There are five signal modalities that organisms use for communication including; visual, chemical, electrosensory, mechinosensory, and auditory. Using these signal modalities animals interact both intra- and inter-specifically to send prompts to other organisms that alter that individuals behavioral patterns. Animal vocalization is a signaling mechanism that every human has experiences. Think about being at the zoo and hearing chimpanzees with their high pitched wails or a lions roar. The physcial processes involved with vocalization is well known, but recently biologists have started to study what other conditions may efffect this form of communication. Scientists beleive that auditory or vocal communication may be driven by emotional and physiological states.

In a case study, conducted by Francesco Mazzini of the Department of Evolutionary and Functional Biology in Parma, Italy, researchers investigated the impact of social and physiological factors of wolf vocal communication. The functions of vocalization have been widely studied, but the mechanims had not been closely examined until this 2013 study on wolves. Mazzini and his colleagues beleived vocalization would be piloted by changes in the social-ecological environment and the animal’s understanding of its social world.

Results showed that animals may be capable of communicating with the same species in a flexible manner when using vocalization. Instead of the howls of individuals being produced due to stress hormones the study demonstrated that the signaler controled the flexibility of its vocalization for gathering other individuals in the pac. The production of vocalization is not necessarily a simple emotional response to environmental changes, but can also be used in a benefital way socially.




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