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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Japanese deer 'eavesdrop' on monkeys for food

20 June 2012 

Japanese deer 'eavesdrop' on monkeys for food

By Ella Davies
Reporter, BBC Nature

Deer and monkeys live harmoniously on the protected island

Sika deer "eavesdrop" on monkey chatter in order to find food, say scientists.

A team from Kyoto University, Japan, tested how macaque monkey calls affected the feeding behaviour of the deer that live on Yakushima Island.

Previous research has focussed on species "listening to" one another to avoid danger.

But when scientists played macaque calls from hidden speakers, the deer gathered nearby, indicating that they associate the sounds with benefits.

The deer and monkeys do not have any predators on the island

The results were published in the journal Behavioural Processes.

Dr Hiroki Koda who led the study said it was a good example of "possible interspecies communication" and that the deer seemed to be eavesdropping as a "foraging strategy". (...)

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