Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 363–370 | Cite as

Early ontogenetic effects on song quality in the Bengalese finch (Lonchura striata var. domestica): laying order, sibling competition, and song syntax

  • Masayo Soma
  • Mariko Hiraiwa-Hasegawa
  • Kazuo Okanoya
Original Paper

Abstract

Birdsong differs from other sexual traits in that the acquisition process involves learning. Especially in close-ended learning species like the Bengalese finch, conditions experienced during the critical song-learning period can have a profound influence on song quality. Therefore, to understand song evolution from a life-history perspective, we investigated early ontogenetic effects on song quality. In particular, we focused on maternal effects and sibling competition. In asynchronously hatching bird species, the age hierarchy among nestlings affects physical development due to competition for food; mothers may influence this competition by adjusting their investment in each egg according to its sequence in the laying order. To independently assess these effects, chicks of the Bengalese finch were cross-fostered so that the age hierarchies formed in fostered broods were independent of the laying order. Our results indicate that song quality partially reflects early ontogenetic conditions, whereas song duration and note-type repertoire were independent of either laying order or age hierarchy. The syntactical complexity of note order declined over the laying sequence. This finding suggests that the song learning ability is influenced by within-clutch variation in maternal investment toward eggs. Considering that song syntactical complexity is subject to female preference in the Bengalese finch, it is likely that maternal resource allocation strategies play a role in song evolution.

Keywords

Bengalese finch Development Maternal effect Song complexity Song learning 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the members of the Biolinguistics team for help in maintaining the birds, and two anonymous reviewers for the comment of the manuscript. This study was supported financially by JSPS Research Fellowships for Young Scientists (DC2-17-10949 and PD-19-7732).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masayo Soma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mariko Hiraiwa-Hasegawa
    • 1
  • Kazuo Okanoya
    • 2
  1. 1.Hayama Center for Advanced StudiesThe Graduate University for Advanced StudiesKanagawaJapan240-0193
  2. 2.Biolinguistics LaboratoryBrain Science Institute, RIKENSaitamaJapan351-0198

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