This is the first study of the sonic and ultrasonic vocalization in a Dipodidae rodent. For the small-sized quadrupedal northern birch mouse Sicista betulina, phylogenetically related to the bipedal jerboas (Dipodidae), we report null results for ultrasonic vocalization and investigate the acoustic cues to individual identity, sex and body size in the discomfort-related high-frequency tonal sonic calls.
We used a parallel audio recording in the sonic and ultrasonic ranges during weighting adult northern birch mice before the scheduled hibernation in captivity. The sonic (audible) high-frequency tonal calls (ranging from 6.21 to 9.86 kHz) were presented in all individuals (7 males and 4 females). The ultrasonic calls lacked in the recordings. Two-way nested ANOVA revealed the effects of caller individual identity on all 10 measured acoustic variables and the effects of sex on four out of 10 measured acoustic variables. Discriminant function analyses with 10 acoustic variables included in the analysis showed 85.5% correct assignment of calls to individual and 79.7% correct assignment of calls to sex; both values significantly exceeded the random values (23.1% and 54.3%, respectively) calculated with randomization procedure. Body mass did not differ between sexes and did not correlate significantly with the acoustic variables.