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Bioacoustic article: Behaviour 141 (8)

Subject: Bioacoustic article: Behaviour 141 (8)
From: Reeflab <>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 09:04:43 -0800
 Behaviour, Volume 141, Number 8 (August 2004)
 Blumenrath SH & T Dabelsteen (2004) Degradation of great tit (Parus major)
 song before and after foliation: implications for vocal communication in a
 deciduous forest. Behaviour 141: 935-958 .
 Abstract: Songbirds living in temperate forests experience great seasonal
 changes in habitat acoustics during the part of the breeding season when
 singing activity is high. These changes, which are brought about by
 accelerated vegetation growth and leaf burst in spring, affect sound
 propagation and potentially render vocal communication more difficult as the
 total number of scattering and absorbing obstacles increases. We
 investigated this in a sound transmission experiment in which representative
 great tit (Parus major) songs were broadcast in a typical forest habitat
 before and after foliation. Speaker and microphone were placed at natural
 separation distances and in typical sender and receiver positions. For each
 song note we quantified several aspects of sound degradation and found that
 they all increased considerably when leaves were present. Before foliation
 the same amount of degradation would only be obtained by doubling the
 transmission distance, i.e. foliage shortens the active space of great tit
 song. This inevitably alters distance information, provided that
 distance-dependent, structural changes of received songs are used as ranging
 cues. Moreover, sender and receiver positions within the canopy become
 unfavourable compared to heights just below the canopy when the aim is to
 maximise song propagation distances. Altogether, the presence of foliage
 greatly affects the potential for vocal information transfer in great tits
 and requires behavioural and/or perceptual adjustment of the communicating
 individuals to counteract or reduce the impact of foliage on signal

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