Advertisement

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 557–563 | Cite as

Vocal interactions in common nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos): males take it easy after pairing

  • Hansjoerg P. Kunc
  • Valentin Amrhein
  • Marc Naguib
Original Article

Abstract

Seasonal patterns of bird song have been studied intensively with a focus on individual males. However, little is known about seasonal patterns of singing during vocal interactions between males. Vocal interactions have been shown to be important in sexual selection as males may signal aspects of motivation or quality. Here, we investigated in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) whether a male’s behaviour in vocal interactions at different stages of the breeding season is influenced by its mating status. We examined how males that differ in their subsequent mating success respond to a non-interactive, nocturnal playback presented during the period of mate attraction and subsequently during the egg-laying period. We found that mated males overlapped fewer songs and had a lower song rate during the egg-laying period compared to their responses during the mate-attraction period, whereas unpaired males did not vary in their responses between the two periods. Our results suggest that mating status is a key factor affecting singing behaviour in vocal interactions and that a time-specific singing pattern like song overlapping is used flexibly during vocal interactions. Because song overlapping is thought to be a signal of aggression in male–male vocal interactions, it seems that males vary the level of aggression in vocal interactions according to their mating status and to the stage in the breeding season.

Keywords

Sexual selection Eavesdropping Nightingale Bird song Nocturnal song Male–male interactions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Helene Altrichter, Cas Eikenaar, Christopher Herhausen, Gerd Kraus, Stephanie Michler, Rouven Schmidt, Anne Selbach, Balázs Szelényi and Marieke Weerheim for assistance in the field. Joah Madden, Angelika Poesel, Rouven Schmidt, Jeff Podos and anonymous referees gave valuable comments on the manuscript. Permission for ringing was kindly granted by Henri Jenn and by the Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d’Oiseaux, Paris, France. The research was made possible by the Swiss Association Pro Petite Camargue Alsacienne, the Swiss Foundation Emilia Guggenheim-Schnurr and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Na 335/4-1, 4-2).

References

  1. Amrhein V, Korner P, Naguib M (2002) Nocturnal and diurnal singing activity in the nightingale: correlations with mating status and breeding cycle. Anim Behav 64:939–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amrhein V, Kunc HP, Naguib M (2004a) Seasonal patterns of singing activity vary with time of day in the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos). Auk 121:110–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amrhein V, Kunc HP, Naguib M (2004b) Non-territorial nightingales prospect territories during the dawn chorus. Proc R Soc Lond B 271:S167–S169 (Suppl)Google Scholar
  4. Birkhead TR, Møller AP (1992) Sperm competition in birds: evolutionary causes and consequences. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Brindley EL (1991) Response of European robins to playback of song: neighbour recognition and overlapping. Anim Behav 41:503–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brumm H (2004) The impact of environmental noise on song amplitude in a territorial bird. J Anim Ecol 73:434–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dabelsteen T (1992) Interactive playback: a finely tuned response. In: McGregor PK (ed) Playback and studies of animal communication. Plenum, New York, pp 97–109Google Scholar
  8. Dabelsteen T, McGregor PK, Holland J, Tobias JA, Pedersen SB (1997) The signal function of overlapping singing in male robins. Anim Behav 53:249–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Forstmeier W, Balsby TJS (2002) Why mated dusky warblers sing so much: territory guarding and male quality announcement. Behaviour 139:89–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gil D, Graves JA, Slater PJ (1999) Seasonal patterns of singing in the willow warbler: evidence against the fertility announcement hypothesis. Anim Behav 58:995–1000PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hall ML, Illes A, Vehrencamp SL (2006) Overlapping signals in banded wrens: long-term effects of prior experience on males and females. Behav Ecol 17:260–269Google Scholar
  12. Hultsch H, Todt D (1981) Repertoire sharing and song-post distance in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 8:183–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hultsch H, Todt D (1982) Temporal performance roles during vocal interactions in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 11:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hultsch H, Todt D (1996) Rules of parameter variation in homotype series of birdsong can indicate a “sollwert” significance. Behav Processes 38:175–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hyman J, Hughes M, Searcy WA, Nowicki S (2004) Individual variation in the strength of territory defense in male song sparrows: correlations of age, territory tenure, and neighbor aggressiveness. Behaviour 141:15–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kipper S, Mundry R, Hultsch H, Todt D (2004) Long-term persistence of song performance rules in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos): a longitudinal field study on repertoire size and composition. Behaviour 141:371–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kunc HP, Amrhein V, Naguib M (2005a) Acoustic features of song categories and their possible implications for communication in the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos). Behaviour 142:1083–1097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kunc HP, Amrhein V, Naguib M (2005b) Seasonal variation of dawn song characteristics in the common nightingale. Anim Behav 70:1265–1271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kunc HP, Amrhein V, Naguib M (2006) Vocal interactions in common nightingales: more aggressive males have higher pairing success. Anim Behav 72:25–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Langemann U, Tavares JP, Peake TM, McGregor PK (2000) Response of great tits to escalating patterns of playback. Behaviour 137:451–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Leboucher G, Pallot K (2004) Is he all he says he is? Intersexual eavesdropping in the domestic canary, Serinus canaria. Anim Behav 68:957–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Leitner S, Voigt C, Gahr M (2001) Seasonal changes in the song pattern of the non-domesticated island canary (Serinus canaria), a field study. Behaviour 138:885–904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu W-C (2004) The effect of neighbours and females on dawn and daytime singing behaviours male chipping sparrows. Anim Behav 68:39–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McGregor PK, Dabelsteen T (1996) Communication networks. In: Kroodsma DE, Miller EH (eds) Ecology and evolution of acoustic communication in birds. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, pp 409–425Google Scholar
  25. McGregor PK, Peake TM (2000) Communication networks: social environments for receiving and signalling behaviour. Acta Ethol 2:71–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mennill DJ, Ratcliffe LM (2004) Overlapping and matching in the song contests of black-capped chickadees. Anim Behav 67:441–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mennill DJ, Ratcliffe LM, Boag PT (2002) Female eavesdropping on male song contests in songbirds. Science 296:873PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mennill DJ, Boag PT, Ratcliffe LM (2003) The reproductive choices of eavesdropping female black-capped chickadees, Poecile atricapillus. Naturwissenschaften 90:577–582PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miyazaki M, Waas JR (2002) “Last word” effects of male advertising calls on female preference in little blue penguins. Behaviour 139:1413–1423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Møller AP (1991) Why mated songbirds sing so much: mate guarding and male announcement of mate fertility status. Am Nat 138:994–1013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Naguib M (2005) Singing interactions in song birds: implications for social relations, territoriality and territorial settlement. In: McGregor PK (ed) Animal communication networks. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 300–319Google Scholar
  32. Naguib M (1999) Effects of song overlapping and alternating on nocturnally singing nightingales. Anim Behav 58:1061–1067PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Naguib M, Todt D (1997) Effects of dyadic vocal interactions on other conspecific receivers in nightingales. Anim Behav 54:1535–1543PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Naguib M, Amrhein V, Kunc HP (2004) Effects of territorial intrusions on eavesdropping neighbors: communication networks in nightingales. Behav Ecol 6:1011–1015CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nowicki S, Searcy WA, Krueger T, Hughes M (2002) Individual variation in response to simulated territorial challenge among territory-holding song sparrows. J Avian Biol 33:253–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oliveira RF, McGregor PK, Latruffe C (1998) Know thine enemy: fighting fish gather information from observing conspecific interactions. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 265:1045–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Osiejuk TS, Ratynska K, Cygan JP (2004) Signal value of alternating and overlapping singing in the Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella. J Ethol 22:55–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Otter K, McGregor PK, Terry AMR, Burford FRL, Peake TM, Dabelsteen T (1999) Do female great tits (Parus major) assess males by eavesdropping? A field study using interactive song playback. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 266:1305–1309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peake TM, Terry AMR, McGregor PK, Dabelsteen T (2001) Male great tits eavesdrop on simulated male-to-male vocal interactions. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 268:1183–1187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Peake TM, Terry AMR, McGregor PK, Dabelsteen T (2002) Do great tits assess rivals by combining direct experience with information gathered by eavesdropping? Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 269:1925–1929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pinxten R, Eens M (1998) Male starlings sing most in the late morning, following egg-laying: a strategy to protect their paternity? Behaviour 135:1197–1211Google Scholar
  42. Schmidt R, Amrhein V, Kunc HP, Naguib M (2006) The day after: Effects of vocal interactions on territory defence in nightingales. J Anim Ecol (in press)Google Scholar
  43. Sheldon BC (2000) Differential allocation: tests, mechanisms and implications. Trends Ecol Evol 15:397–402PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Staicer CA, Spector DA, Horn AG (1996) The dawn chorus and other diel patterns in acoustic signaling. In: Kroodsma DE, Miller EH (eds) Ecology and evolution of acoustic communication in birds. Cornell University Press, London, pp 426–453Google Scholar
  45. Todt D, Naguib M (2000) Vocal interactions in birds: the use of song as a model in communication. Adv Study Behav 29:247–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vehrencamp SL (2000) Handicap, index, and conventional signal elements of bird song. In: Espmark Y, Amundsen T, Rosenqvist G (ed) Animals signals: signal design in animal communication. Tapir, Trondheim, pp 227–300Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hansjoerg P. Kunc
    • 1
  • Valentin Amrhein
    • 3
  • Marc Naguib
    • 2
  1. 1.Verhaltensbiologie (Animal Behaviour), Zoologisches InstitutUniversität ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Animal BehaviourUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  3. 3.Research Station Petite Camargue AlsacienneUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations