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Geographic variation in alarm calls of Gunnison's prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni) was analyzed at regional and local scales. Alarm calls in response to a common stimulus (the same human) were recorded at four colonies near Flagstaff, Arizona, and at six sites throughout the southwestern United States. The acoustic structure of calls was analyzed for seven call variables. Regional differences fit the prediction of greater differences with increased geographical separation. Differences between colonies at a local scale were not related to geographical distance, suggesting that local dialects exist within a region. Differences in the level of predation by humans between colonies or habitat effects on sound propagation may explain variation in calls at the local level.


open access article