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Responses to interactive playback predict future pairing success in nightingales

Summary: Responses to interactive playback predict future
pairing success in nightingales
*Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University
yResearch Station Petite Camargue Alsacienne, University of Basel
(Received 2 December 2005; initial acceptance 7 February 2006;
final acceptance 28 March 2006; published online 6 October 2006; MS. number: 8767)
Birdsong is a sexually selected trait that serves in territory defence and mate choice. Individual song traits
can be affected by the body condition of the male and thus may reflect his quality. Such relations between
male quality and general singing performance raise the question whether differences in male quality also
affect response strategies used in dyadic interactions. To address this question, we studied the relation be-
tween pairing success of male common nightingales, Luscinia megarhynchos, and their responses to rivals
posing different levels of threat. Using interactive playback, we exposed males prior to mating to either
aggressively or moderately singing rivals (by song overlapping and song alternating, respectively). Males
that remained unpaired throughout the season (bachelors) interrupted their singing significantly more
often after being overlapped than after alternating playback, whereas subsequently mated males kept the
number of singing interruptions more constant across playback treatment. This suggests that subsequently
paired males are less discriminative than are bachelors when challenged by rivals varying in aggressiveness.
Regardless of playback treatment, males that later became paired responded significantly more strongly
than did bachelor males. Thus, an increase in singing after a vocal interaction prior to mating predicted


Source: Amrhein, Valentin - Zoologisches Institut, Universitšt Basel


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology