Most songbirds learn their songs from their father or other male conspecifics. The variables that control the song learning process in a natural environment are still largely unknown.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen now compared songs from male canaries that hatched at the beginning and at the end of the breeding season. During the song learning phase early hatched juveniles had a large number of adult tutors available whereas late hatched birds only heard a few or even no adult songs. Already in autumn both groups of birds were similar in their song performance, which suggests that late-hatched males must have undergone an accelerated song development.
Juvenile songbirds learn their songs in two phases, in the first step they hear an adult tutor song that they memorize in their brains. Afterwards they practice their song until it closely matches the saved template.
The duration of these phases considerably varies between species, as well as the number of songs that a juvenile has to hear in order to sing a proper song. From playback studies it is known that hearing only a few songs can be sufficient for a juvenile to sing a decent song. However, the variables that control the song learning process in a natural social context are largely unknown.
In our latitudes at the beginning of the breeding season in March juvenile songbirds hear a large number of singing males that try to impress the females and also their rivals. Towards the end of the breeding season they sing less or even completely stop singing. It could therefore be that juveniles hatching at the end of the breeding season develop a different song because they do not hear tutor songs during the crucial first song learning phase.
Scientists from the Department of Behavioural Neurobiology at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen now investigated whether there are differences in the songs of domesticated canaries that hatch either early or late in the breeding season.
In a large aviary containing more than 60 birds the researchers first measured song activity of adult males during the course of four months. They found that adult birds clearly decreased their singing rate towards the end of the breeding season and from the end of July on no more songs could be heard when the birds are ready to moult.
The researchers divided male hatchlings into two groups of early and late hatched birds and recorded their songs in their first autumn and the following spring. The analysis revealed an interesting result: Both in autumn, when the birds were still producing plastic song, and in the following spring as adults, the groups did not differ in their song organisation and song performance.
However, there were differences in song between autumn and spring that were similar in both groups and agree with previous studies on seasonal song changes in adult male canaries. A similar seasonal pattern was also found when comparing the sex hormone testosterone that is known to influence reproductively important song parameters.
„The results suggest that late-hatched canaries show an accelerated song development. They further show that a reduced tutor availability has no substantial impact on the song development”, says Johanna Teichel, one of the authors of the study. “Alternatively it could be that juveniles do not have to hear the tutor song over an extended period but it might be rather important to hear it during a certain period, for example before the end of the song learning period in autumn when adults just start to sing again”, says Cornelia Voigt, last author of the study.
Dr. Stefan Leitner | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences