Publications

Animal communication systems:

My primary emphasis is on working with referential communication, using prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni) as a model species. Current findings are that prairie dogs have: a) different alarm calls for different species of predators; b) different escape behaviors for different species of predators; c) transmission of semantic information, in that playbacks of alarm calls in the absence of predators lead to escape behaviors that are appropriate to the kind of predator who elicited the alarm calls; d) alarm calls containing descriptive information about the general size, color, and speed of travel of the predator.
For further information, see the following:

  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. and R. Coast. 1980. Dialects in the alarm calls of prairie dogs. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 7: 49-53.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N., C. Fischer, and J. Shapiro. 1986. Predator-specific words in prairie dog alarm calls. American Zoologist 26: 557 (Abstract)
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N., Judith Kiriazis, C. Fischer, and E. Creef. 1991. Semantic information distinguishing individual predators in the alarm calls of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Animal Behaviour 42: 713-719.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 1998. The language of prairie dogs. pp. 65-76. in: M. Tobias and K. Solisti-Mattelon, eds. Kinship with the animals. Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro, OR.
  • Kiriazis, Judith and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 1996. Anthropocentrism and the study of animal language. in: R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thompson, and H. L. Miles, eds. Anthropomorphism, anecdotes and animals. SUNY Press, pp.365-369.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N., S. H. Ackers, and M. Van Ert. 1998. Geographical variation in alarm calls of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Journal of Mammalogy 79: 1265-1272.
  • Ackers, S. H. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 1999. Communication of stimulus size and shape in alarm calls of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Ethology 105: 149-162.
  • Placer, J. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2000. A fuzzy-neural system for identification of species-specific alarm calls of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Behavioural Processes 52: 1-9.
  • Placer, J. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2001. Developing new metrics for the investigation of animal vocalizations. Intelligent Automation and Soft Computing 7: 1-11.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 2002. Cognition and communication in prairie dogs. pp. 257-264 in: Bekoff, M., C. Allen, and G. Burghardt, eds. The Cognitive Animal, MIT Press.
  • Verdolin, J. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2002. Vigilance and predation risk in Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Canadian Journal of Zoology 80: 1197-1203.
  • Perla, B. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2002. Habitat structure and alarm call dialects in the Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni). Behavioral Ecology 13: 844-850.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 2002. The language of prairie dogs. Plateau 6: 30-38.
  • Placer, J. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2004. A method for identifying sounds used in alarm call classification. Behavioural Processes 67: 87-98.
  • Dahlin, C. R., R. P. Balda and C. Slobodchikoff 2005. Food, audience, and sex effects on pinyon jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) communication. Behavioural Processes 68: 25-39.
  • Kiriazis, J. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2006. Perceptual specificity in the alarm calls of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Behavioural Processes 73: 29-35.
  • Placer, J., C. N. Slobodchikoff, J. Burns, J. Placer, and R. Middleton. 2006. Using self-organizing maps to recognize acoustic units associated with information content in anaimal vocalizations. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 119: 3140-3146.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. and J. Placer. 2006. Acoustic structures in the alarm calls of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 119: 3153-3260.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 2006. The language of prairie dogs. pp. 63-73. in: Solisti, K. and M. Tobias, eds. Kinship with animals. Council Oak Books, San Franscisco CA.
  • Frederiksen, J. K. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2007. Referential specificity in the alarm calls of the black-tailed prairie dog. Ethology, Ecology & Evolution 19: 87-99.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. and J. L. Verdolin. 2007. Prairie dog-human interactions. in: Bekoff, M. ed. Encyclopedia of human animal interactions, 4: 1159-1162. Greenwood Press, Westport CT.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N., B. Perla and J. L. Verdolin. 2009. Prairie Dogs: Communication and Community in an Animal Society. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N., A. Paseka and J. L. Verdolin. 2009. Prairie dog alarm calls encode labels about predator colors. Animal Cognition 12: 435-439.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 2010. Alarm Calls In Birds And Mammals. Â in M. Breed and J. Moore, Eds. Â Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, v. 1, pp. 40-43. Oxford: Academic Press.

Social behavior:

Another emphasis involves elucidating why animals have social behavior. Again, Gunnison’s prairie dogs are the model species. These animals are social and colonial. Within a colony, there are a number of territories, with each territory containing one of the following social assemblages: a) one adult of either sex; b) a male and a female adult, in an apparently mongogamous association; c) one male and several females, in an apparently polygynous association; d) one female and several males, in an apparently polyandrous association; e) several males and several females, in a multi-animal association. DNA fingerprinting studies have shown that these associations do not reflect actual mating assemblages: over 60 percent of the matings by females occur with males from other territories. The social assemblages exist for reasons other than mating, perhaps to take advantage of limited sets of resources.
For further information, see the following:

  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 1984. Resources and the evolution of social behavior, pp. 227-251. in: P. W. Price, C. N. Slobodchikoff, and W. S. Gaud, eds. A new ecology: novel approaches to interactive systems. Wiley Interscience, NY.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. and W. C. Schulz. 1988. Cooperation, aggression, and the evolution of social behavior, pp. 13-32. in: C. N. Slobodchikoff, ed. The ecology of social behavior. Academic Press, NY
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. and W. M. Shields. 1988. Ecological trade-offs and social behavior. pp. 3-10. in: C. N. Slobodchikoff, ed. The ecology of social behavior. Academic Press, NY.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N., A. Robinson, and C. Schaack. 1988. Habitat use by Gunnison’s prairie dogs. pp. 403-408. in. Szaro, R. C., K. E. Severson, and D. R. Patton, eds. Management of Amphibians, Reptiles and Small Mammals in North America. U. S. Forest Service, Ft. Collins, CO.
  • Shalaway, S. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 1988. Seasonal change in the diet of prairie dogs. Journal of Mammalogy 69: 835-841.
  • Travis, S. E. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 1993. Effects of food resources on the social system of Gunnison’s prairie dogs. Canadian Journal of Zoology 71: 1186-1192.
  • Travis, S. E., C. N. Slobodchikoff, and P. Keim. 1995. Ecological and demographic effects on intraspecific variation in the social system of prairie dogs. Ecology 76: 1794-1803.
  • Travis, S. E., C. N. Slobodchikoff, and P. Keim. 1996. Social assemblages and mating relationships in prairie dogs: a DNA fingerprint analysis. Behavioral Ecology 7: 95-100.
  • Travis, S. E., C. N. Slobodchikoff, and P. Keim. 1997. DNA fingerprinting reveals low genetic diversity in Gunnison’s prairie dog. Journal of Mammalogy 78: 725-732.
  • Bangert, R. K. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2000. The influence of Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni Sciuridae) on the spatial structure of a high desert grassland landscape. Journal of Arid Environments 46: 357-369.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. 2000. Feed-forward and the evolution of social behavior. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23: 265-266.
  • Bangert, R. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2004. Prairie dog engineering indirectly affects beetle movement behavior. Journal of Arid Environments 56: 83-94.
  • Bangert, R. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2006. Conservation of prairie dog ecosystem engineering may support beta and gamma diversity. Journal of Arid Environments 67: 100-115.
  • Slobodchikoff, C. N. and J. L. Verdolin. 2007. Prairie dog-human interactions. in: Bekoff, M. ed. Encyclopedia of human animal interactions, 4: 1159-1162. Greenwood Press, Westport CT.
  • Verdolin, J. L., Kara Lewis, and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2008. Morphology of burrow systems: A comparison of Gunnison’s (Cynomys gunnisoni), White-tailed (C. leucurus), Black-tailed (C. ludovicianus) and Utah (C. parvidens) prairie dogs. Southwestern Naturalist 53(2): 201-207.
  • Verdolin, J. L. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2009.  Resources, not kinship, determine social patterning in the territorial Gunnison’s prairie dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) Ethology 115:59-69.
  • Verdolin, J. L. and C. N. Slobodchikoff. 2010. Male territoriality in a social sciurid, Cynomys gunnisoni: What do patterns of paternity tell us? Behaviour 147: 1145-1167.

 

For a more complete list of Con’s publications, see Con’s Bibliography