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Dominance signalled in an acoustic ornament

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advertisement, black-capped chickadee, communication, dominance, Poecile atricapillus

Abstract (summary)

In many species, males use auditory signals to attract females and females select males based on their dominance status. Here we show that information on dominance status in male black-capped chickadees, Poecile atricapillus, a small, temperate, North American songbird, can be extracted from individual songs. We found that the relative amplitude of the two notes in the ‘fee bee’ song of this species was more consistent in dominant males. Furthermore, females responded differently to presentations of single song exemplars from males of different dominance status, with females vocalizing more and performing more motor behaviours during the presentation of dominant songs. Our study suggests that non-pitch-based cues within single vocalizations can both reliably indicate relative rank and be discriminated by females.

Publication Information

Hoeschele, M., Moscicki, M. K., Otter, K. A., van Oort, H., Fort, K. T., Farrell, T. M., Lee, H., Robson, S. W. J., & Sturdy, C. B. (2010). Dominance signalled in an acoustic ornament. Animal Behaviour, 79(3), 657–664.


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