Testing the function of song-matching in birds

Responses of eastern male song sparrows Melospiza melodia to partial song-matching

Rindy C. Anderson, William Searcy, Stephen Nowicki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Song-matching has been hypothesized to be a signal of aggressive intentions whereby matching an opponent signals that the singer is likely to attack. Theory predicts that an aggressive signal should impose a cost that enforces the signal's reliability. A receiver-dependent cost imposed by the matched bird's aggressive retaliation has been proposed for song-matching. We tested for such a cost for partial song-matching in an eastern population of song sparrows where males lack the shared song types necessary for song type matching, but can perform partial song-matching using shared song segments. We tested aggressive response, as measured by average distance to a playback speaker, to partial-matching songs and non-matching songs. We predicted a stronger aggressive response to partial-matching songs, as has been shown for whole song-matching in western song sparrow populations. The birds in our study responded no differently to partial-matching and non-matching songs. Neither the distance to the playback speaker nor singing responses differed between playback treatments. Our results do not support a receiver-dependent cost to partial song-matching, as would be expected if partial-matching is a direct threat. Instead, we suggest that partial song-matching functions as a signal of attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-363
Number of pages17
JournalBehaviour
Volume145
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008

Fingerprint

Sparrows
Passeriformes
songbirds
Music
animal communication
Birds
testing
Costs and Cost Analysis
Singing
Melospiza
birds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Testing the function of song-matching in birds : Responses of eastern male song sparrows Melospiza melodia to partial song-matching. / Anderson, Rindy C.; Searcy, William; Nowicki, Stephen.

In: Behaviour, Vol. 145, No. 3, 01.03.2008, p. 347-363.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{4e02116a30d44c9c9c12ce62c8458c91,
title = "Testing the function of song-matching in birds: Responses of eastern male song sparrows Melospiza melodia to partial song-matching",
abstract = "Song-matching has been hypothesized to be a signal of aggressive intentions whereby matching an opponent signals that the singer is likely to attack. Theory predicts that an aggressive signal should impose a cost that enforces the signal's reliability. A receiver-dependent cost imposed by the matched bird's aggressive retaliation has been proposed for song-matching. We tested for such a cost for partial song-matching in an eastern population of song sparrows where males lack the shared song types necessary for song type matching, but can perform partial song-matching using shared song segments. We tested aggressive response, as measured by average distance to a playback speaker, to partial-matching songs and non-matching songs. We predicted a stronger aggressive response to partial-matching songs, as has been shown for whole song-matching in western song sparrow populations. The birds in our study responded no differently to partial-matching and non-matching songs. Neither the distance to the playback speaker nor singing responses differed between playback treatments. Our results do not support a receiver-dependent cost to partial song-matching, as would be expected if partial-matching is a direct threat. Instead, we suggest that partial song-matching functions as a signal of attention.",
author = "Anderson, {Rindy C.} and William Searcy and Stephen Nowicki",
year = "2008",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1163/156853908783402876",
language = "English",
volume = "145",
pages = "347--363",
journal = "Behaviour",
issn = "0005-7959",
publisher = "Brill",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Testing the function of song-matching in birds

T2 - Responses of eastern male song sparrows Melospiza melodia to partial song-matching

AU - Anderson, Rindy C.

AU - Searcy, William

AU - Nowicki, Stephen

PY - 2008/3/1

Y1 - 2008/3/1

N2 - Song-matching has been hypothesized to be a signal of aggressive intentions whereby matching an opponent signals that the singer is likely to attack. Theory predicts that an aggressive signal should impose a cost that enforces the signal's reliability. A receiver-dependent cost imposed by the matched bird's aggressive retaliation has been proposed for song-matching. We tested for such a cost for partial song-matching in an eastern population of song sparrows where males lack the shared song types necessary for song type matching, but can perform partial song-matching using shared song segments. We tested aggressive response, as measured by average distance to a playback speaker, to partial-matching songs and non-matching songs. We predicted a stronger aggressive response to partial-matching songs, as has been shown for whole song-matching in western song sparrow populations. The birds in our study responded no differently to partial-matching and non-matching songs. Neither the distance to the playback speaker nor singing responses differed between playback treatments. Our results do not support a receiver-dependent cost to partial song-matching, as would be expected if partial-matching is a direct threat. Instead, we suggest that partial song-matching functions as a signal of attention.

AB - Song-matching has been hypothesized to be a signal of aggressive intentions whereby matching an opponent signals that the singer is likely to attack. Theory predicts that an aggressive signal should impose a cost that enforces the signal's reliability. A receiver-dependent cost imposed by the matched bird's aggressive retaliation has been proposed for song-matching. We tested for such a cost for partial song-matching in an eastern population of song sparrows where males lack the shared song types necessary for song type matching, but can perform partial song-matching using shared song segments. We tested aggressive response, as measured by average distance to a playback speaker, to partial-matching songs and non-matching songs. We predicted a stronger aggressive response to partial-matching songs, as has been shown for whole song-matching in western song sparrow populations. The birds in our study responded no differently to partial-matching and non-matching songs. Neither the distance to the playback speaker nor singing responses differed between playback treatments. Our results do not support a receiver-dependent cost to partial song-matching, as would be expected if partial-matching is a direct threat. Instead, we suggest that partial song-matching functions as a signal of attention.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=38149014843&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=38149014843&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1163/156853908783402876

DO - 10.1163/156853908783402876

M3 - Article

VL - 145

SP - 347

EP - 363

JO - Behaviour

JF - Behaviour

SN - 0005-7959

IS - 3

ER -