Communication and Perception
Lions have the cognitive ability to recognize individuals and to interact with other lions to benefit their own survival. They use visual cues in this communication. For example, the mane is thought to signal to other lions the sex of a male from a distance and to indicate individual fitness. (The rate of mane development is mostly controlled by testosterone.)
Resident male lions regularly mark their territory by spraying vegetation with urine and by scuff-marking. Females spray occasionally. This behavior starts at the age of 2 years. This type of marking uses both chemical and visual communication signals.
Male lions start to roar at 1 year of age and females start shortly after this. The male’s roar is both louder and deeper than the female's. Lions can roar at any time, but they typically stand or crouch while roaring. Roaring serves to advertise territories, to communicate with other pride members, and to demonstrate aggressions toward enemy lions. Lions also roar in chorus; this may be a form of social bonding. This is accoustic communication.
Finally, lions use tactile communication. Males engage in physical aggression during pride take over. There is touching during greetings between pride members. Physical communication passes between lactating females and the cubs they are nursing.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: choruses ; scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic
- Grinnel, J., C. Packer, A. Pusey. 1995. Cooperation in male lions: kinship, reciprocity, or mutualism?. Animal Behavior, 49/1: 95-105. Accessed February 10, 2004 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science.