Songbirds learn songs least degraded by environmental transmission.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Communication depends on accurate reception of signals by receivers, and selection acts on signals to transmit efficiently through the environment. Although learnt signals, such as birdsong, vary in their transmission properties through different habitats, few studies have addressed the role of cultural selection in driving acoustic adaptation. Here, we present a test of the hypothesis that song-learning birds choose to copy songs that are less degraded by transmission through the environment, using swamp sparrows (Melospiza georgiana) as our study species. We found that all subjects discriminated between undegraded and naturally degraded song models, and learnt only from undegraded song models, demonstrating a role for cultural selection in acoustic adaptation of learnt signals.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Peters, S; Derryberry, EP; Nowicki, S

Published Date

  • October 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 736 - 739

PubMed ID

  • 22718954

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3440999

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1744-957X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1744-9561

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0446


  • eng