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Bioacoustic article in Behaviour 143 no. 1 (January 2006)

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Subject: Bioacoustic article in Behaviour 143 no. 1 (January 2006)
From: "Frank Veit" <>
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 13:53:22 EST
Behaviour 143, Issue 1

van Dongen, Wouter FD (2006) Variation in singing behaviour reveals possible 
functions of song in male golden whistlers. Behaviour 143: 57-82.

Male song has been shown to have two major functions, repelling rivals and 
attracting mates. Yet much debate still exists as to what extent male singing 
strategies have been influenced by selection pressures imposed by each sex. I 
use a combination of song recordings and playbacks to investigate how male 
competition and female choice may have shaped song structure and behaviour in 
migratory golden whistlers (Pachycephala pectoralis). Song output was low 
during territory establishment but increased dramatically when breeding 
commenced. Singing during the female fertile period may be an effective 
paternity guard against potential cuckolders. During this period, males 
decreased their song output when more neighbouring females were fertile, 
possibly reflecting an inability to concurrently guard a mate and pursue 
extra-pair fertilisations. However, high singing rates were maintained after 
the fertile period, suggesting that males may also sing to attract extra-pair 
copulations. S
ong repertoire size increased with male age and may signal male quality. 
Repertoires included two broad song-types: simple 'whistle' songs and more 
complex 'melodic' songs. Whistle songs were often sung by breeding males and 
may be more effective at broadcasting information at long-distances. In 
contrast, melodic songs were commonly sung in close-range male encounters and 
may contain more information about signaller quality. During vocal contests, 
males exhibited a range of countersinging behaviours, including song-type 
switching, song-type and frequency-matching, and song overlapping, which may 
reflect a hierarchical mode of signalling aggression. Each sex may have imposed 
different selection pressures on the vocal output of male golden whistlers. 

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