Journal of Ethology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 157–165 | Cite as

Non-vocal communication as an anti-predator strategy in scaled doves (Columbina squammata)

  • Paulo Sérgio Amorim
  • Raphael Igor DiasEmail author


Different strategies have evolved in response to predation pressure. Many species use acoustic signals to communicate about the presence of predators, and some of them use non-vocal sounds. Here, we evaluated the role of the non-vocal sound produced by scaled doves (Columbina squammata) during escape takeoffs. Initially, we investigated the context of the non-vocal sound production to access the effects of natural threats on individuals’ escape response. Then, we used simulated attacks (a direct running movement toward the focal individuals) to confirm the preliminary observations and to evaluate how position in the group affects escape response and vigilance. For both the observational and experimental parts, we registered, among other variables, the occurrence of takeoff flight, if it was followed by a production of non-vocal sound, the position of the individuals within the flock and their response (e.g., stay, flew, vigilance). We observed that both solitary and flocked individuals produce non-vocal sounds during takeoff flights, although it was more commonly registered for flocks. The production of the non-vocal sound elicited a faster escape response on flock members, and individuals at the center of the flock showed a higher probability to takeoff. The results suggest that the non-vocal sound may signal information about predation risk and that it may be directed both to conspecifics and to the predator itself. Our results therefore contribute to the understanding of the evolution of mechanical sound production in birds and shed some light on its function as a communication signal, especially under a predation context.


Acoustic communication Alarm signal Mechanical sound Non-vocal sound Predator–prey communication Trill 



We would like to thank the Centro Universitário de Brasília (UniCEUB) and the Institutional Scientific Initiation Scholarship Program (PIC) for the financial support.


This study was funded by the Institutional Scientific Initiation Scholarship Program (PIC) of the Centro Universitário de Brasília.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

P S. Amorim and R. I. Dias declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical statement

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. The study complied with the current laws of Brazil under permit 50793 from Instituto Brasileiro de Recursos Renováveis (IBAMA).

Human participants

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculdade de Ciências da Educação e SaúdeCentro Universitário de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

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