Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research of plain wren duets could help further understand fundamentals of conversation

02.03.2015

University of Miami researcher finds that plain wren couples give each other cues to perform precisely coordinated duets

Known for their beautiful singing duets, plain wrens of Costa Rica perform precise phrase-by-phrase modifications to the duration between two consecutive phrases, achieving careful coordination as their songs unfold, according to a new study published in the Journal of Avian Biology.


This is an audio recording of a duet of the plain wrens of Costa Rice.

Credit: Karla D. Rivera-Càceres, University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Biology.

Duetting is a highly complex collaboration, yet little is known about the mechanisms underlying this behavior. The plain wren males and females alternate sounds so quickly that sometimes it seems as if a single bird is singing.

"Hearing a plain wren pair singing a spotless duet is overwhelming," said Karla D. Rivera-Càceres, Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology at the University of Miami (UM) College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the study. "This intricate coordination between mating partners is achieved by a complex and dynamic process, where individuals use rules to determine how, or if the vocal interaction is to continue."

The new study shows that these songbirds achieve precise coordination by adjusting the period between two consecutive phrases (inter-phrase intervals), depending on whether their song is answered, the phrase type used in the duet and the position of the inter-phrase interval within the duet.

It has been said that it is the space between the notes or phrases that gives meaning to music; plain wrens demonstrate this well. Rivera-Càceres studied these songbirds in Costa Rica, at La Suerte Field Station and its surrounding areas, where plain wrens are common. She recorded duets of males and females and measured the inter-phrase intervals in their songs.

She found that females perform longer inter-phase intervals when their mates don't answer a phrase, and males produce shorter inter-phrase intervals when their female partners don't answer.

Females also change the inter-phase intervals based only on the phrase type their mates sing. While, males modify their inter-phrase intervals based on both the phrase they sing and the phrase the females use to answer. And although both males and females create longer interphase intervals for longer phrase types sung by their partners, males are more precise than the females.

It's possible that this highly coordinated behavior could signal pair bond strength--the level of commitment a mated male and female have of cooperating with one another.

"Plain wren couples collaborate with each other in two important activities, parental care and territory defense, both of which have big effects on their joint reproductive success," Rivera-Càceres said. "In plain wrens, it seems that individuals invest in performing duets with high coordination, which could help communicate how committed they are to their mates."

This meticulous study of duet coordination has not only revealed how coordination is achieved in plain wrens, but also has implications for how duets develop and how they function, explained William Searcy, professor and Maytag Chair in Ornithology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UM and director of the lab where Rivera-Càceres conducts her research. "I expect her approach to be a model for conducting parallel studies in other species."

The findings may have even broader implications. One of the most studied vocal interactions is human conversation; however, because of its complexity, it's very difficult to understand the rules that govern it.

These vocal interactions among plain wrens could help us understand some fundamental aspects of human conversation, such as turn taking. The study is titled "Plain wrens Cantorchilus modestus zeledoni adjust their singing tempo based on self and partner's cues to perform precisely coordinated duets."

###

http://www.miami.edu/news

The University of Miami's mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of our diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.

Media Contact

Megan Ondrizek
m.ondrizek@umiami.edu
305-284-3667

 @univmiami

http://www.miami.edu 

Megan Ondrizek | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>