Behaviour and Ecology
Monica Padilla de la Torre (PhD 2013)
Supervisors: Alan McElligott & Tom ReaderMonica finished her PhD in 2013 and after a brief postdoctoral project looking at purring in cats, she returned to Mexico to pursue a career in science! Here's how she described her project:
Vocal communication in cattle
My PhD research is on animal behaviour, specifically in vocal communication. It is well known that in most ungulates, the recognition process between mother and their offspring mainly involves olfaction and audition. However, olfaction only permits identification at short range, while acoustic signals are efficient over both short and long distances, and therefore vocal communication appears to be a key factor for mother-offspring recognition.
It has been determined that the vocal identification process is unidirectional in some “hiding” species of deer (where young animals remain hidden while their mothers forage). However, in “follower” species such as domestic sheep (Ovis aries), mother and offspring are capable of recognizing each other using contact calls. By studying different species, we can assess the extent to which this distinction between hider and follower species is generalised, and determine how different environments and survival strategies can affect the evolution of vocal communication systems.
Photo: Dr John Perivolaris
My project focuses on mother-offspring communication in cattle (Bos taurus). In order to determine which acoustic patterns in vocalisations are important for individuality in contact calls of adult females and calves, I will carry out field recordings and acoustical analysis. Playback experiments will be used to test calf recognition of adult female contact calls, and test adult female recognition of calf contact calls, allowing me to determine what parts of the vocalisations are used for recognition.
My project is funded by CONACYT.Latin American women in England
I have been interviewed and photographed as part of an art project by Dr John Perivolaris. John's project reflects on the twenty-first century legacy of Latin American women’s contribution to Latin American Independence struggles in the Nineteenth Century.