Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 9, pp 1425–1436 | Cite as

Female and male serins (Serinus serinus) respond differently to derived song traits

  • Gonçalo C. CardosoEmail author
  • Paulo Gama Mota
  • Violaine Depraz
Original Paper


We tested if male or female behavior towards manipulated song indicates intra- or inter-sexual selection of two characteristics of serin song that are extreme and evolutionarily derived in this species: high frequency and fast syllable rate. In a first experiment, we monitored vocal responses and attendance to song playbacks. Female behavior indicated a preference for high-frequency song and suggested an aggressive function for fast syllable rates, as fast songs inhibited vocal response. Males did not show discrimination of frequency or syllable rate with this experimental design. The second experiment used a simple approach/no approach design, and in this experiment, males showed stronger discrimination between stimuli than did females. Therefore, sex differences in discrimination appear not to result from differences in perceptual abilities but from differences in the context of stimulus presentation. The second experiment also supported a role of song frequency in female choice, as the effect of frequency was limited to females: males did not respond differently to song frequency and approached high-frequency songs less than females did. Results of this experiment also supported an aggressive function for fast syllable rates, as the effect of fast songs did extend to male behavior. Taken together, our results indicate that the high frequency and fast syllable rate of serin song cannot result from a single selection process: while high frequency may have evolved by inter-sexual selection, syllable rate provokes a pattern of response that is more consistent with intra-sexual selection.


Signal evolution Song frequency Syllable rate Intra-sexual selection Inter-sexual selection 



We thank Paulo Peixoto for aiding with the data-acquisition apparatus and computer programming and the associate editor and reviewers of this manuscript for many helpful comments. This research was supported by the project POCTI/1999/BSE/33714 to P.G.M. and the Ph.D. grant PRAXIS XXI/BD/19605/99 to G.C.C., both from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, and by a postdoctoral grant to V.D. from the Fondation Fyssen. Capture and maintenance of birds were done under Instituto da Conservação da Natureza (I.C.N.) permits according to Portuguese legislation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gonçalo C. Cardoso
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paulo Gama Mota
    • 1
  • Violaine Depraz
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de AntropologiaFaculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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