Journal of Ethology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 9-15

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Acoustic structure of songs in island populations of the Japanese bush warbler, Cettia diphone, in relation to sexual selection

  • Shoji HamaoAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, National Museum of Nature and Science Email author 


Bird songs in island populations have often been reported to be simplified, in that island birds have a smaller number of song types and song-element types compared to mainland birds. However, there is less information on the characteristics of acoustic structure in island songs. I investigated song structure of one mainland and three island populations of Japanese bush warblers, Cettia diphone, and found that island songs had an acoustically simple structure. The frequency-modulated (FM) portions of the songs were shorter and had fewer frequency inflections in the insular populations than in the mainland population, while the number of FM notes, the frequency range of these notes, and the song repertoire sizes of males did not differ between the islands and the mainland. I also investigated whether the song complexity is related to sexual selection pressure using the degree of sexual size dimorphism as a proxy for the latter. The degree of dimorphism in body mass was larger on the mainland. Thus, weakened sexual selection on islands is a possible factor in the formation of simple songs. Further studies related to male–male competition and female choice on islands are required.


Cettia diphone Island population Japanese bush warbler Sexual selection Song repertoire Song structure