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SAIGA (Saiga tatarica)


Study Site: Volokolamsk breeding centre of Moscow Zoo (Moscow prov., Russia).
Dates: Since 2001 onward.
Volodin Ilya, Volodina Elena, Efremova Kseniya, Sibiryakova Olga.
Collaborators: Frey Roland (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany).
Popular papers:

The purpose of this project was to describe the vocal diversity of saiga antilope vocalizations in captivity, to estimate sex-related differences in the structure of pulsed calls, to estimate the changes in the structure of the pulsed calls along ontogenesis, and to discuss the probable pressures of sexual selection to the vocal behaviour of saiga antilopes.

Saiga is a single species of large antilopes, whose strongly enlarged nasal vestibulum forms a trunk, evolved evolutionary as an adaptation for filtration of dust at fast locomotion. All call types of these antilopes are produced with help of this trunk. The most interesting is the pulsed call, occurring in all age-sex groups of saigas. Besides size-related differences in call structures, pulsed roars of males during the rut are additionally modified due to a specific vocal posture. This posture, with strongly extended and tensed trunk, results in additional decrease of formant frequencies (vocal resonances) in sounds. Since, in mammals, the low formant frequencies are related to large body sizes, the lowering of formant frequencies in roars of harem-holding saiga males results in vocal size exaggeration, and the caller seems larger by ear than really. It is important for saigas, because most matings occur mainly at nights, when real sizes of callers are not visible.


sound videoSounds in the Gallery.



saiga_Frey saiga



  • Volodin I.A., Volodina E.V., Frey R., Kirilyuk V.E., Naidenko S.V. Unusually high-pitched neonate distress calls of the open-habitat Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa) and their anatomical and hormonal predictors // Science of Nature, 2017, 104, 50. 236.pdf

  • Volodin I.A., Sibiryakova O.V., Frey R., Efremova K.O., Soldatova N.V., Zuther S., Kisebaev T.B., Salemgareev A.R., Volodina E.V. Individuality of distress and discomfort calls in neonates with bass voices: wild- living goitred gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa) and saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica) // Ethology, 2017, v. 123, N 5, p. 386396. 234.pdf

  • Sibiryakova O.V., Volodin I.A., Frey R., Zuther S., Kisebaev T.B., Salemgareev A.R., Volodina E.V. Remarkable vocal identity in wild-living mother and neonate saiga antelopes: a specialization for breeding in huge aggregations? // Science of Nature, 2017, v. 104, 11. 230.pdf

  • Volodin I.A., Sibiryakova O.V., Kokshunova L.E., Frey R., Volodina E.V. Nasal and oral calls in mother and young trunk-nosed saiga antelopes, Saiga tatarica // Bioacoustics, 2014, v. 23, N 2, p. 79-98. 199.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Volodina E.V., Efremova K.O. Antelope, calling through the nose: structure of sounds and effect of sexual selection on the vocal behavior of the saiga (Saiga tatarica) // Zoologicheskii Zhurnal, 2009, v. 88, N 1, p. 113-124. (available in Russian)164.pdf
  • Frey R., Volodin I., Volodina E. A nose that roars: anatomical specializations and behavioural features of rutting male saiga // Journal of Anatomy, 2007, v. 211, N 6, p. 717-736. 151.pdf