Song amplitude and body size in birds


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Abstract

Bird song is a sexually selected multidimensional signal. A fundamental question regarding the evolution of sexually selected signals is what information they convey and how their honesty is maintained. Song amplitude is a performance-related signal trait that varies considerably between individuals, but this signal dimension has been neglected in past studies. I found that median song amplitude in male nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) and zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) did not vary significantly with body size or residual body mass. In contrast, I found a significant negative correlation between body size (and also residual mass) and the maximum song amplitude during interactive singing in nightingales. However, the function of these more subtle differences in song amplitude remains to be investigated. By and large, the results of this study suggest that mean song amplitude is unlikely to indicate a bird's body size or current condition (measured as residual mass).

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