18 May 2018

A Melodious Mouse that Sings

When most mice have something to say, they say it in a whisper that is inaudible to human ears. Mice in the genus Scotinomys, however, sing loud and sing often. Why are some males boisterous and others demure? Burkhard et al. suggest that hormones like leptin and insulin may govern the decision to sing. These hormones reflect how much energy males have stored in fatty tissue. The researchers find that mice with greater concentrations of these hormones are the most prolific of singers, suggesting these hormones help a mouse decide whether he has energy to burn. As a result, songs might also convey how healthy a male is to potential mates or rivals.

For the past few years, Tracy Burkhard and her team have been researching Scotinomys teguina for the past few years here at QERC.

To read more about Burkhard’s research, check out the links below.

Adiposity signals predict vocal effort in Alston’s singing mice

Royal Society Blog: Alston’s Singing Mice

From the Agence France-Presse, as featured in The Guardian: The Melodious Mouse that Sings for Sex


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