Songs of isolation-reared sparrows function in communication, but are significantly less effective than learned songs

William A. Searcy, Peter Marler, Susan S. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Songs of male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) and swamp sparrows (M. georgiana) isolated before hatching from conspecific song were played to males and females of both species. "Isolate" songs of these sparrows resemble natural conspecific song in several aspects of gross structure, but differ from natural song in note structure. Male territory owners of both species responded more to conspecific isolate song than to heterospecific normal song. Captive females of both species, previously treated with estradiol, courted in response to isolate song but not to heterospecific song. We conclude that there is sufficient speciesspecific information in isolate song of both species to allow a degree of normal function. To assess the importance of the structural refinements added through learning, we compared response to isolate and natural conspecific songs. Male territory owners and captive females responded more to natural than to isolate songs in both species. Learning thus significantly increases the potency of song in both intersexual and intrasexual communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-229
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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