Song switching in monandrous and polyandrous dunnocks, Prunella modularis

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) Science Article 3


The dunnock song repertoire comprises multiple song types, and during bouts of singingmales repeat a song type several times before switching. Several hypotheses suggest that the rate atwhich males switch song types may function in male-male aggression, mate attraction, or both.Dunnocks switched song types 10 times faster when searching for a receptive female than duringmale-male interactions. Polyandrous and polygynandrous males switched song types significantly fasterthan monogamous and polygynous males when separated from a fertile female, but there was nodiVerence in switching rates during song duels or spontaneous song bouts outside the fertile period.Thus males were more likely to switch song types if they were competing to attract a receptive femalethan if they had exclusive access to females. Contrary to the predictions of the anti-exhaustion andanti-habituation hypotheses, the rate of song switching was higher in the contexts in which song ratewas slower.

N. E. Langmore, Anim. Behav., 1997, 53, 757-766

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