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Gerbils (Gerbillinae), voles (Arvicolinae) and other rodents


Study Site: Moscow Zoo (Moscow prov., Russia); St Petersburg University (St. Petersburg University, Russia).
Dates: 1991-2000, since 2013.
Participants: Volodin Ilya, Volodina Elena, Kalashnikova Maria, Voinilovitch Maria, Doronina Lilya, Kozhevnikova Julia, Yurlova Daria, Dymskaya Margarita.
Collaborators: Goltsman Mikhail (Lomonosov Moscow State University), Ilchenko Olga (Moscow Zoo, Russia), Smorkacheva Antonina (St. Petersburg University).
Popular papers: <Science & Life>


Whereas many species of mammals, including humans, vocalize only within a narrow frequency range, other species can produce, along to the low-frequency vocalizations very high-frequency vocal emissions, near the upper range of human hearing end even higher, in the ultrasonic range. As a rule, vocalizing within the high-frequency and ultrasonic ranges occurs by using the so-called whistle mechanism, often without losing the ability to produce also the low-frequency calls by means of vibrations of the vocal folds (the phonation mechanism). The expanding the frequency range of acoustic communication up expands substantially the communicative abilities of animals. However, the pressures of natural selection towards the evolution of the high-frequency and ultrasonic communication are not perfectly clear to date. Second focus of our research in on studying of common for mammals principles of encoding emotional arousal and discomfort in audible and ultrasonic vocalizations. Many species of rodent use simultaneously or alternately both the audible and ultrasonic communicative channels for communicating discomfort. We plan to conduct the studied on the nontraditional for this kind of laboratory research species of small mammals from different taxa and differing in the degree of sociality and adapted to different ecological conditions. This will help to conduct a comparative interspecies analysis and reveal common and species-specific traits encoding information about discomfort, in the ultrasonic signals of rodents.

sound videoSounds in the Gallery.

emotional arousal

Calls of the great gerbils.

great gerbil calls




  • Volodin I.A., Dymskaya M.M., Smorkatcheva A.V., Volodina E.V. Ultrasound from underground: cryptic communication in subterranean wild-living and captive northern mole voles (Ellobius talpinus). Bioacoustics, 2022. doi: 10.1080/09524622.2021.1960191 271.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Yurlova D.D., Ilchenko O.G., Vasilieva N.A., Volodina E.V. Non-individualistic ultrasonic and audible isolation calls throughout ontogeny in a rodent, Eolagurus luteus. Behavioural Processes, 2021, v. 193, 104540. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2021.104540 269.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Yurlova D.D., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V. Ontogeny of audible squeaks in yellow steppe lemming Eolagurus luteus: trend towards shorter and low-frequency calls is reminiscent of those in ultrasonic vocalization. BMC Zoology, 2021, v 6: 27. doi: 10.1186/s40850-021-00092-8 268.pdf
  • Klenova A.V., Volodin I.A., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V. Discomfort-related changes of call rate and acoustic variables of ultrasonic vocalizations in adult yellow steppe lemmings Eolagurus luteus. Scientific Reports, 2021, v. 11: 14969. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-94489-7 267.pdf
  • Klenova A.V., Volodin I.A., Volodina E.V., Ranneva S.V., Amstislavskaya T.G., Lipina T.V. Vocal and physical phenotypes of calsyntenin2 knockout mouse pups model early-life symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder. Behavioural Brain Research, 2021, v. 412, 113430. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113430 265.pdf
  • Yurlova D.D., Volodin I.A., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V. Rapid development of mature vocal patterns of ultrasonic calls in a fast-growing rodent, the yellow steppe lemming (Eolagurus luteus). PLoS ONE, 2020, v. 15(2): e0228892, p. 1-24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228892 255.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Klenova A.V., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V. High frequency audible calls in northern birch mice Sicista betulina in response to handling: effects of individuality, sex and body mass on the acoustics // BMC Research Notes, 2019, v. 12: 677, p. 1-7. doi: 10.1186/s13104-019-4719-9 253.pdf
  • Zaytseva A.S., Volodin I.A., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V.Ultrasonic vocalization of pup and adult fat-tailed gerbils (Pachyuromys duprasi) // PLoS ONE, 2019, v. 14(7): e0219749. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219749 252.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Panyutina A.A., Abramov A.V., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V. Ultrasonic bouts of a blind climbing rodent (Typhlomys chapensis): acoustic analysis // Bioacoustics, 2019, doi: 10.1080/09524622.2018.1509374 247.pdf
  • Panyutina A.A., Kuznetsov A.N., Volodin I.A., Abramov A.V., Soldatova I.B. A blind climber: the first evidence of ultrasonic echolocation in arboreal mammals // Integrative Zoology, 2017, V. 12, N 2, p. 172-184.233.pdf
  • Zaytseva A.S., Volodin I.A., Ilchenko O.G., Volodina E.V. Discomfort-related changes in pup ultrasonic calls of fat-tailed gerbils Pachyuromys duprasi // Bioacoustics, 2017, V. 26, N 1, p. 1-13. 229.pdf
  • Zaytseva A.S., Ilchenko O.G., Volodin I.A., Volodina E.V. Early postnatal development of the fat-tailed gerbil (Pachyuromys duprasi, Rodentia, Gerbillinae) in a laboratory colony // Zoologicheskii Zhurnal, 2016, V. 95, 1, P. 94-103. (available in Russian). 223.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Volodina E.V., Gogoleva S.S., Doronina L.O. Indicators of emotional arousal in vocal emissions of the humans and nonhuman mammals // Russian Journal for General Biology, 2009, v. 70, N 3, p. 210-224. (available in Russian). 168.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Volodina E.V., Filatova O.A. Structural peculiarities, occurrence and functional significance of nonlinear phenomena in calls of terrestrial mammals // Russian Journal for General Biology, 2005, v. 66, N 4, p. 346-362. (available in Russian). 140.pdf
  • Volodina E.V., Volodin I.A. Vocalizations as internal states indicators in mammals: A review // Current Biology Achievements (Uspekhi Sovremennoi Biologii), 2001, v. 121, N 2, p. 180-189. (available in Russian). 122.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Goltsman M.E. Acoustic activity displayed in the agonistic behavior of Great and Light gerbils // Doklady Biological Sciences, 2000, v. 371, p. 176-178. Translated from Doklady Akademii Nauk, 2000, v. 371, N 4, p. 553-555. 304.pdf
  • Volodin I.A. Species-specific characteristics of gerbils (Rodentia, Gerbillidae) behaviour in captivity. Ph.D. Thesis Abstract, Moscow, 1999, 24 p. (available in Russian). 119.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Goltsman M.E. Characteristics of movement velocity of animals placed together in pairs in two allied species of jirds // Doklady Biological Sciences, 1998, v. 363, p. 574-578. Translated from Doklady Akademii Nauk, 1998, v.363, N 3, p. 425-428. 302.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Goltsman M.E., Kalashnikova M.V. Dynamics of agonistic interaction between paired animals in three gerbil species // Doklady Biological Sciences, 1998, v. 363, p. 583-586. Translated from Doklady Akademii Nauk, 1998, v.363, N 4, p. 570-573. 303.pdf
  • Goltsman M.E., Volodin I.A. Temporal pattern of agonistic interaction in two gerbil species (Rhombomys opimus and Gerbillus perpallidus) differing in resistance to social pressure // Ethology, 1997, v. 103, p. 1051-1059. 115.pdf
  • Volodin I.A., Goltsman M.E., Borisova N.G. Situational changes in vocalization of Great gerbils (Rhombomys opimus Licht.) during defensive behavior // Doklady Biological Sciences, 1994, v. 334, p. 65-68. Translated from Doklady Akademii Nauk, 1994, v. 334, N 4, p. 529-532. 301.pdf