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
How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Information Technology
23.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy