Territorial response of Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus) to neighbor/stranger conspecific playbacks


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Territorial response of Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus) to neighbor/stranger conspecific playbacks

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Title:
Territorial response of Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus) to neighbor/stranger conspecific playbacks
Translated Title:
Respuesta territorial del Soterrey blanco (Thryothorus rufalbus) a los cantos de los vecinos/desconocidos
Creator:
Dunn, Kaitlin
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Language:
Text in English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Wrens ( lcsh )
Soterres ( lcsh )
Birds--Behavior ( lcsh )
Aves--Comportamiento ( lcsh )
Birdsongs ( lcsh )
Canto de aves ( lcsh )
CIEE Fall 2006
CIEE Otoño 2006
Genre:
Reports

Notes

Abstract:
I tested the Rufous-and-white Wren (T. rufalbus) for discrimination between the songs of neighbor and stranger conspecifics. I found significant differences in behavioral responses between the song playbacks of neighboring and unfamiliar conspecifics in seventeen pairs of the Rufous-and-white Wren. Birds sang for longer periods and sang more songs in response to playbacks of strangers. However, the amount that they approached the playback source did not differ between the song types. These results suggest that Rufous-and-white wrens recognize the songs of neighbors and identify the individuals as less threatening than strangers. This diminished response may be an adaptive strategy to reduce the energy spent in territory defense. Wrens do not differentially approach the song source because this behavior is not a primary territorial defense strategy. ( ,, )
Abstract:
Yo probé la habilidad del Soterrey Rufo y Blanco para discriminar entre los cantos de los soterreses vecinos y los cantos de los soterreses desconocidos. Encontre diferencias en las reacciones entre los cantos de los vecinos y los desconocidos en diecisiete parejas del Soterrey Rufo y Blanco.
Biographical:
Student affiliation : Department of Zoology and Environmental Studies University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Born Digital

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Monteverde Institute
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Monteverde Institute
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This item is licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivative License. This license allows others to download this work and share them with others as long as they mention the author and link back to the author, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
Resource Identifier:
M39-00339 ( USFLDC DOI )
m39.339 ( USFLDC Handle )

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I tested the Rufous-and-white Wren (T. rufalbus) for discrimination between the songs of neighbor and stranger conspecifics. I found significant differences in behavioral responses between the song playbacks of neighboring and unfamiliar conspecifics in seventeen pairs of the Rufous-and-white Wren. Birds sang for longer periods and sang more songs in response to playbacks of strangers. However, the amount that they approached the playback source did not differ between the song types. These results suggest that Rufous-and-white wrens recognize the songs of neighbors and identify the individuals as less threatening than strangers. This diminished response may be an adaptive strategy to reduce the energy spent in territory defense. Wrens do not differentially approach the song source because this behavior is not a primary territorial defense strategy.
Yo prob la habilidad del Soterrey Rufo y Blanco para discriminar entre los cantos de los soterreses vecinos y los cantos de los soterreses desconocidos. Encontre diferencias en las reacciones entre los cantos de los vecinos y los desconocidos en diecisiete parejas del Soterrey Rufo y Blanco.
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Birdsongs
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Canto de aves
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1 Territorial response of Rufous and white Wrens Thryothorus rufalbus to neighbor/stranger conspecific playbacks Kaitlin Dunn Department of Zoology and Environmental Studies University of Wisconsin, Madison ABSTRACT I tested the Rufous and white Wren T. rufalbus for discrimination between the songs of neighbor and stranger conspecifics. I found significant differences in behavioral responses between the song playbacks of neighboring and unfamiliar conspecifics in seventeen pairs of the Rufous and whi te Wren. Birds sang for longer periods and sang more songs in response to playbacks of strangers. However, the amount that they approached the playback source did not differ between the song types. These results suggest that Rufous and white wrens recog nize the songs of neighbors and identify the individuals as less threatening than strangers. This diminished response may be an adaptive strategy to reduce the energy spent in territory defense. Wrens do not differentially approach the song source becaus e this behavior is not a primary territorial defense strategy . RESUMEN Yo probé la habilidad del Soterré Rufo y Blanco para discriminar entre los cantos de soterréis vecinos y los cantos de soterréis desconocidos. Encontré diferencias en las reacciones entre los cantos de vecinos y los desconocidos en diecisiete parejas del Soterré Rufo y Blanco. Los soterréis cantaron por más tiempo y cantaron más cantos al contacto con el canto de los soterréis desconocidos. Sin embargo, no hubo una diferenc ia en la cantidad de individuos que se acercaron a la fuente del canto. Los resultados sugieren que el Soterré Rufo y Blanco reconoce los cantos de sus vecinos y saben que ellos son menos amenazantes que los desconocidos. Esta respuesta puede ser una estrategia adaptiva para reducir la energía que el soterré necesita utilizar para defender su territorio. Posiblemente el Soterré Rufo y Bl anco no se acerca a la fuente del canto porque esta no es una estrategia defensiva para esta especie. INTRODUCTION Territorial defense is often a costly endeavor for an animal. Many territorial birds minimize this cost by singing to communicate ownership of an area rather than engaging in direct physical contact Davies and Houston 1984. However, several studies h ave suggested that singing is still quite energetically costly and is directly and indirectly limited by energy constraints Kroodsma and Miller 1996. A singing Carolina Wren uses five times more oxygen than it does while resting Eberhardt 1994. Terri torial birds must devote a certain amount of their available energy to singing in order to define and defend territorial boundaries. Many species of birds, such as the Striped backed Wren and the Carolina Wren, have been found to distinguish between the s ongs of their familiar neighbors and the

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2 songs of unfamiliar, potential intruders Bard et al. 2002; Shy and Morton 1986; Wiley and Wiley 1997. Species of territorial birds not only demonstrate the capability of recognizing individuals by their song but also respond differently to the songs of neighboring and non neighboring birds Kroodsma 1976. Once neighbors identify each other and where territorial boundaries lie, they can save energy by decreasing the degree to which they defend these boundaries. T his phenomenon is known as the €dear enemy effect Alcock 2005. Studies have been done to demonstrate this €dear enemy effect in many bird species. However, it cannot be said that vocal recognition is universal in territorial birds Kroodsma and Miller 1996. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether T. rufalbus gives differential defensive territorial responses to the songs of neighbor and stranger conspecifics. I predict that songs from strangers will solicit a more aggressive reaction than will the songs of the more familiar neighbors. MATERIALS AND METHODS Study Species The Rufous and white Wren belongs to the family Troglodytidae. In Costa Rica, the Rufous and white Wren is a common resident of the North Pacific slope and the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula Stiles and Skutch 1989. An inhabitant of open, scrubby woodland, the birds are usually found in breeding pairs that defend their territory year round. The male and female duet in complex phrases, but males sing significantly more Ahumada 2001; Stiles and Skutch 1989. The song is characteristic of their genus, with easily localizable pure tones and whistles. However, the individuals are conspicuous and difficult to see Ahumada 2001. Study Site I conducted my study at the Eco logical Farm in Cerro Plano, Costa Rica, in October and November 2006. The Ecological Farm is in Zone 2 premontane wet forest where Rufous and white Wrens are fairly common Fogden 1993. The 30 ha reserve has four trails that run through secondary fo rest. Data Collection Initially, I identified seventeen pairs of wrens and the general location of their territories. I broadcasted a previous territorial recording of T. rufalbus from Costa Rican Bird Songs CD while walking the trails at the Ecologi cal Farm. When a subject or subjects responded to the recording, I marked that location with a piece of flagging tape and assigned that territory a number one through seventeen. Using an Apple iPod A1059 with a Micromemo microphone attachment, I recorde d the territorial songs of each pair by soliciting their calls with the sample T. rufalbus recording. I continued to play the sample song in order to get them to move closer and to obtain multiple song repetitions. In many territories, I could only get o ne bird to respond and this was all that I recorded. All recordings were at least fifteen seconds long and contained at least two song repetitions. I tested each pair of wrens for their responses to song playbacks from a neighboring pair and from a stran ger pair that was at least two territories removed. I

PAGE 3

3 tested each pair in two trials with a neighbor‚s song and two trials with a stranger‚s song, but never on the same day. I stood in the same spot in a bird‚s territory for each trial, which consisted of one minute of playback, three minutes of silence, and one minute of playback. After each minute of playback I documented three measures of territorial behaviors: the total length of song response, the number of song repetitions in the response, and wheth er the birds approached. The second trial was initiated twenty minutes after the end of the last response from the previous trial. All trials took place between 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. A paired t test compared the song response length to neighbor song s with the song response length to stranger songs. A paired t test was also used in comparing the number of defensive song repetitions sung in response to neighbors versus the number sung to strangers. I used a Chi square test for independence to look fo r significance in whether or not a bird approached the sound source. RESULTS I found that subjects generally responded for a longer amount of time when the songs of strangers were played t test, t = 5.77, df = 33, p < .05, Figure 1. A greater number o f song repetitions were sung in response to the playbacks of stranger songs t = 5.36, df = 33, p < .05, Figure 2. There was no significant difference in the number of approaches made to the song source x² = 1.375, df = 2. Thus, subjects did not appr oach during one playback type more than during the other. DISCUSSION As predicted, the territorial behavior of T. rufalbus differed in response to the songs of neighbor and stranger conspecifics, with strangers eliciting a stronger response. Subjects sa ng more defensive songs and for a longer amount of time when the songs of strangers were played, but they did not differ in the amount that they approached the source of playback. This means that subjects were able to identify the song of a neighbor as different from the song of a stranger. Mennill and Vehrencamp 2005 showed that male Rufous and white Wrens share song types with their neighbors and that this sharing decreases with increasing distance between territories. My results indicate that thi s song type matching may play a role in territorial interactions between neighbors because it allows individuals to identify one another . Further research could indicate if the territory holder memorizes the songs of individual neighbors or if it recogniz es that a similar song type confers neighbor status. The results of this study indicate that Rufous and white Wrens view neighbors as less likely to invade their territory than strangers. Because territorial boundaries between neighbors are likely to be established, the threat of territory invasion by a neighbor is lower than by a stranger looking to establish in a new territory Kroodsma 1976. Reduced aggression to neighbors may be a significant savings in energy Kroodsma 1976. Therefore, a bird th at can recognize the songs of neighbors and give a diminished response will have more energy for other processes such as reproduction. This bird will have an adaptive edge over birds without this capability Alcock 2005.

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4 Subjects were not found to app roach the source of playback more frequently when the songs of strangers were broadcasted. However, few approaches by subjects were observed in response to either playback type. A study with Nuttal‚s White crowned Sparrows found the difference between th e number of approaches in response to neighbor and stranger playbacks was less significant than was the difference between the numbers of songs sung Baker et al. 1981. If approach is a frequently used defense mechanism, I may not have obtained a large e nough sample size to find significant results. Although Rufous and white Wrens live in breeding pairs and defend their territory year round, I most often observed singing by only one individual per territory. This individual was more likely to be the mal e because males are known to sing more than females Ahumada 2001. A study similar to mine should be conducted during the breeding season to determine whether females take a more active role in territorial defense during this time. Territorial responses may be more aggressive during this time Alcock 2005, and the occurrence of song source approach may differ between neighbors and strangers at this time. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to thank Karen and Alan Masters for their work in organizing the independe nt study projects. I also am very grateful to Tania Chavarria Pizarro for all of her of guidance and help with statistical analysis. A big thank you goes to Cam Pennington and Tom McFarland for their assistance with many of the details and for their many useful comments and suggestions. Thanks to Mirella Salazar for use of the study site and to Grant Connette for taking me bird watching in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. LITERATURE CITED Ahumada, J.A. 2001. Comparison of the Reproductive Biology o f Two Neotropical Wrens in an Unpredictable Environment in Northeastern Colombia. The Auk 1181: 191 210. Alcock, J. 2005. Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach . Sinauer Associates, Sunderland Massachusetts. Baker, M.C., D.B. Thompson and G.L. Sherm an. 1981. Neighbor/Stranger Song Discrimination in White Crowned Sparrows. The Condor 833: 265 267. Bard, S.C., M. Hau, M. Wikelski and J.C. Wingfield. 2002. Vocal Distinctiveness and Response to Conspecific Playback in the Spotted Antbird, a Neotropica l Suboscine. The Condor 104: 387 394. Davies, N.B. and A.I. Houston. 1984. Territory Economics. In: Krebs, J.R. and N.B. Davies, editors. Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach . Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts. Eberhardt, L.S. 1994 . Oxygen consumption during singing by male Carolina Wrens Thryothorus ludovicianus . The Auk 111:124 130. Fogden, M. 1993. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Moveteverde and Peñas Blancas. Michael Fogden, Monteverde, Costa Rica

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5 Kroodsma, D.E. 1976 . The Effect of Large Song Repertoires on Neighbor €Recognition in Male Song Sparrows. The Condor 78: 97 99. Kroodsma, D.E. and H.E. Miller. 1996. Ecology and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Birds. Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London. Men nill, D.J. and S.L. Vehrencamp. 2005. Sex Differences in Singing and Duetting Behavior of Neotropical Rufous and white Wrens Thryothorus rufalbus . The Auk 1221: 175 186. Shy, E., and E.S. Morton. 1986. The role of distance, familiarity, and time of da y in Carolina Wren responses to conspecific songs. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 19: 393 400. Stiles, F.G. and A.F. Skutch. 1989. Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. Wiley, R.H. and M.S. Wiley. 1977. Recognition of ne ighbors‚ duets by Stripe backed Wrens Campylorhynchus nuchalis . Behaviour 62: 10 34.

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6 FIGURES €Std. Dev. €Std. Err. Mean seconds 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 N S Figure 1. Length of response in seconds to playbacks from neighbors N and strangers S. Subjects sang for a longer amount of time in response to the songs of strangers than they did to neighbors paired t test, t = 5.77, df = 33, p < .05. €Std. Dev. €Std. Err. Mean # songs 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 N S Figure 2. Number of songs sung in response to playbacks from neighbors N and stran gers S. More songs were sung in response to the songs of strangers than to the songs of neighbors paired t test, t = 5.36, df = 33, p < .05. # of songs length of response seconds


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