Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Song learning in a time lapse

26.08.2015

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.


Young canaries at the age of 110, 72, and 39 days (from left). During their development they were exposed to different amounts of adult singing.

Stefan Leitner

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.

Weitere Informationen:

http://orn.iwww.mpg.de/3600682/news_publication_9375421?c=2168

Dr. Stefan Leitner | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

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

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Study shows how water could have flowed on 'cold and icy' ancient Mars

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays

18.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>