[MARMAM] New publication: The role of visual cues in mother–pup reunions in a colonially breeding mammal

Kaja Wierucka kaja.wierucka at hdr.mq.edu.au
Mon Nov 6 16:20:22 PST 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to share our recent publication in Biology Letters:

Wierucka K, Pitcher BJ, Harcourt R, Charrier I. 2017 The role of visual
cues in mother–pup reunions in a colonially breeding mammal. Biol. Lett.
13: 20170444. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2017.0444


Parental care is an important factor influencing offspring survival and
adult reproductive success in many vertebrates. Parent–offspring
recognition ensures care is only directed to filial young, avoiding the
costs of misallocated resource transfer. It is essential in colonial mammal
species, such as otariids (fur seals and sea lions), in which repeated
mother–offspring separations increase the risk of misdirecting maternal
effort. Identification of otariid pups by mothers is known to be
multi-modal, yet the role of visual cues in this process remains uncertain.
We used three-dimensional visual models to investigate the importance of
visual cues in maternal recognition of pups in Australian sea lions
(Neophoca cinerea). We showed that the colour pattern of pup pelage in the
absence of any other sensory cues served to attract the attention of
females and prompt investigation. Furthermore, females were capable of
accurately distinguishing between models imitating the age-class of their
own pup and those resembling older or younger age-classes. Our results
suggest that visual cues facilitate age-class discrimination of pups by
females and so are likely to play an important role in mother–pup reunions
and recognition in otariid species.

The online version of the article can be accessed here: http://rsbl.

To request a pdf copy please email me at kaja.wierucka at hdr.mq.edu.au.

Best wishes,



*Kaja Wierucka*

*PhD candidate*Marine Predator Research Group
Department of Biological Sciences | Building E8A Room 385
Macquarie University
T: +61 2 9850 7975 <+61%202%209850%207975> | M: + 61 435 958 382

Equipe Communications Acoustiques
Department of Cognition & Behaviour
Institut des Neurosciences Paris Saclay (NeuroPSI), UMR 9197
Université Paris Sud, Bat.446, 91405 Orsay, FRANCE
M: +33 7 68 08 64 96 <+33%207%2068%2008%2064%2096>
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