Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fraternal singing in zebra finches

12.06.2013
The song of songbirds is usually transmitted from one generation to the next by imitation learning and is thought to be similar to the acquisition of human speech.

Although song is often learnt from an adult model, there is some evidence of active vocal learning among siblings. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen now showed that juvenile zebra finches that have been raised without their fathers are able to learn their song via a brother.


Singing siblings: zebra finches that grew up without their dads and therefore without a "song model", don't have to worry about having no singing repertoire. As researchers discovered, the birds can also learn their song through their brothers. Image: Huet des Aunay

When comparing the songs of the two brothers, they turned out to be more alike than the song of the brother with its father. Thus, just like an adult tutor, a juvenile peer has the same potential to serve as a song model.

Social learning from peers is a widespread phenomenon in infants. Peer group size may influence the degree to which interactions within the group can influence their own behaviour. This insight nowadays gains more importance as an increasing number of children get into contact with large group peers at an even earlier age, for example in day nurseries. The type of social partners can also be crucial for the intensity of social learning. A well-known example is the spontaneous development of a particular language in adolescent deaf children in several schools in Nicaragua in the eighties. These pupils invented a private sign-language with Creole characteristics. With this, they emancipated themselves from their unaware teachers who taught the normal sign language. Therefore, the same-age peers had the same or an even larger role model function than the adult teachers.

Song learning from peers has now been investigated by Sébastien Derégnaucourt and Manfred Gahr from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen using juvenile zebra finches. In their study, young males were raised by both parents until the age of 14 days. Afterwards the mother and her chicks were separated from the father. Juvenile zebra finches start to memorise song from the age of 17 days on. When the chicks were about one month old, one of the sons was given back to his father for one week in order to hear his songs, while the other son was kept alone in another room. After the week the two brothers were reunited. When they became adult at 100 days of age the researchers recorded their songs.

First, they found that juveniles exposed to their fathers learned his song, although the degree of song learning showed large individual variation, which the researchers attributed to the relatively short exposure period. These sons were then able to transmit their songs to their brothers that had been without their fathers since they were two weeks old. Remarkably, after the completion of the song learning phase as adults, there was a high similarity in the songs of the two brothers. This similarity was even higher than the similarity that the researchers measured between the paternal song and the song of the son to whom he was exposed.

These results show that a juvenile peer can be a role model that is as efficient as an adult suggesting a large social component underlying song learning, explains Sébastien Derégnaucourt. (SL/HR)

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Manfred Gahr
Max Planck Institute for Ornithologie, Seewiesen
Phone: +49 8157 932-276
Email: gahr@­orn.mpg.de

Publication:
Sébastien Derégnaucourt and Manfred Gahr
Horizontal transmission of the father’s song in the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Biology Letters, June 12, 2013; doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0247

Dr. Sabine Spehn | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.orn.mpg.de/486150/news_publication_7305500?c=2168

Further reports about: Max Planck Institute Ornithology human speech zebra finch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>