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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059208. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

Physically challenging song traits, male quality, and reproductive success in house wrens.

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1
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America. becky.cramer@nhm.uio.no

Abstract

Physically challenging signals are likely to honestly indicate signaler quality. In trilled bird song two physically challenging parameters are vocal deviation (the speed of sound frequency modulation) and trill consistency (how precisely syllables are repeated). As predicted, in several species, they correlate with male quality, are preferred by females, and/or function in male-male signaling. Species may experience different selective pressures on their songs, however; for instance, there may be opposing selection between song complexity and song performance difficulty, such that in species where song complexity is strongly selected, there may not be strong selection on performance-based traits. I tested whether vocal deviation and trill consistency are signals of male quality in house wrens (Troglodytes aedon), a species with complex song structure. Males' singing ability did not correlate with male quality, except that older males sang with higher trill consistency, and males with more consistent trills responded more aggressively to playback (although a previous study found no effect of stimulus trill consistency on males' responses to playback). Males singing more challenging songs did not gain in polygyny, extra-pair paternity, or annual reproductive success. Moreover, none of the standard male quality measures I investigated correlated with mating or reproductive success. I conclude that vocal deviation and trill consistency do not signal male quality in this species.

PMID:
23527137
PMCID:
PMC3602011
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0059208
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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