Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-5

Date: Latest Version

Alarm Calling Upon Predator Detection

  • Laura M. BoltAffiliated withUniversity of Toronto at Mississauga Email author 


Alarm calls warn relatives; Anti-predator vocalization; Co-efficient of genetic relatedness (r); Predator attraction; Predator deterrence hypothesis; Proximate behavior; Shared genetic material; Squirrel family Sciuridae; Ultimate behavior


When a predator is seen, animals from various taxa produce alarm vocalizations. In some cases, alarm calling when a predator is nearby drives the predator away, but in other cases, the caller is pursued by the predator. Calling therefore often leads to greater risk to the vocalizer. Some rodents make anti-predator vocalizations despite this greater threat to themselves because doing so may warn their close relatives of a nearby predator. By warning relatives, they are preserving additional copies of their own genes.


Animal species ranging from birds to mammals are well known to produce alarm calls in response to perceived threats, ranging from unknown and potentially harmful stimuli to known predators. Alarm calls vary in ...

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