Mother–pup recognition mechanisms in Australia sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) using uni- and multi-modal approaches

Abstract

Communication is the process by which one emitter conveys information to one or several receivers to induce a response (behavioral or physiological) by the receiver. Communication plays a major role in various biological functions and may involve signals and cues from different sensory modalities. Traditionally, investigations of animal communication focused on a single sensory modality, yet communication is often multimodal. As these different processes may be quite complex and therefore difficult to disentangle, one approach is to first study each sensorial modality separately. With this refined understanding of individual senses, revealing how they interact becomes possible as the characteristics and properties of each modality can be accounted for, making a multimodal approach feasible. Using this framework, researchers undertook systematic, experimental investigations on mother–pup recognition processes in a colonial pinniped species, the Australian sea lion Neophoca cinerea. The research first assessed the abilities of mothers and pups to identify each other by their voice using playback experiments. Second, they assessed whether visual cues are used by both mothers and pups to distinguish them from conspecifics, and/or whether females discriminate the odor of their filial pup from those from non-filial pups. Finally, to understand if the information transmitted by different sensory modalities is analyzed synergistically or if there is a hierarchy among the sensory modalities, experiments were performed involving different sensory cues simultaneously. These findings are discussed with regards to the active space of each sensory cue, and of the potential enhancements that may arise by assessing information from different modalities.

Getting rid of blinkers: the case of mirror self-recognition in horses (Equus caballus)

Abstract

The commentary by Gallup and Anderson (Anim Cogn https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-021-01538-9, 2021) on the original article by Baragli, Scopa, Maglieri, and Palagi (Anim Cogn https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-021-01502-7, 2021) raised some concerns about the methodological approach used by the authors to demonstrate Mirror Self-Recognition (MSR) in horses. The commentary does not take into account horse physiology and psychology, leading Gallup and Anderson to inappropriately discredit the findings obtained by Baragli et al. Anim Cogn 2021. In this reply, we underlined the importance of a blinker-free approach to understand the evolutionary processes at the basis of animal cognition.