Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 15:16 UK

Experts reveal how animals 'talk'

Chaffinch in song (Courtesy: Henrik Brumm)
Researchers have found that song birds adapt in noisy urban areas

Leading experts on animal communication have gathered in St Andrews for a conference on how species "speak".

The event will reveal a range of studies under way into how animals talk to each other to attract mates or even to scare off their enemies.

It reveals how song birds have been forced to adapt so their tunes can be heard in more noisy urban areas.

The extensive vocal repertoire of a one-week old giant panda will also be revealed at the three-day event.

The event will bring together 140 leading animal communication experts from around the world.

Quiet sex

Dr Vincent Janik, a specialist in communication in marine mammals, said: "Animal communication is a fascinating subject and I am delighted that we managed to attract so many leaders in this field to St Andrews to present their most recent findings.

"It will give us an opportunity to advance discussions on such important topics as the impacts of anthropogenic noise on animals and how complexity in communication relates to animal cognition."

Researchers have revealed how duetting in nocturnal mammals may prevent infanticide and that willow warblers can assess a rival's fighting ability by the frequency of his song.

Studies relating to communication in monkeys and chimpanzees suggest they have far more complex vocal capabilities than had previously been thought.

In 2006 it was discovered that gibbons have developed an unusual way of scaring off predators - by singing to them - and last month the same research team revealed that chimps keep quiet during sex so that other females do not find out about it.


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