Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 11, pp 1915–1926

Bioacoustic distances between the begging calls of brood parasites and their host species: a comparison of metrics and techniques

  • Louis Ranjard
  • Michael G. Anderson
  • Matt J. Rayner
  • Robert B. Payne
  • Ian McLean
  • James V. Briskie
  • Howard A. Ross
  • Dianne H. Brunton
  • Sarah M. N. Woolley
  • Mark E. Hauber
Methods

Abstract

A variety of bioacoustics distance metrics have been used to assess similarities in the vocalizations of different individuals. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of several acoustic similarity indices, some of which have been developed with the specific aim of characterizing the sensory coding of auditory stimuli. We compare different approaches through the analysis of begging calls of several passerine species and specialist brood parasitic cuckoos that putatively evolved to mimic their hosts. The different bioacoustics distances did not provide consistently correlated similarity patterns, implying that they are sensitive to different sound features. However, the encoded spectrogram alignment method was correlated with all other acoustic distance metrics, suggesting that this method provides a consistent approach to use when the perceptually salient sound parameters are unknown for a particular species. Our analyses confirm that statistical similarity of begging calls can be detected in a New Zealand pair of host and specialist parasite species. We also show detectable similarity in two other Australasian host–parasite pairs and another New Zealand system, but to a more limited extent. By examining phylogenetic patterns in the begging call diversity, we also confirm that specialist cuckoos have evolved to mimic the begging calls of their hosts but host species have not co-evolved to modify their calls in response to begging call similarity by the parasite. Our results illustrate that understanding the function and mechanism of behavioral copying and mimicry requires statistically consistent measures of similarity that are related to both the physical aspects of the particular display and the sensory basis of its perception.

Keywords

Begging call Bioacoustics distance Brood parasite Spectrogram alignment Spectro-temporal modulation 

Supplementary material

265_2010_1065_MOESM1_ESM.doc (50 kb)
Online Resource 1Rank order of the similarity to the begging calls of the parasitic shining cuckoo in New Zealand and its grey warbler host, for each acoustic distance measure. The parasite and its host are highlighted and the species of the genus Chalcites are marked (†, dagger). The names of the shining cuckoo hosts are in brackets and abbreviated for g.w., grey warbler; w.t., western thornbill; and y.r.t., yellow-rumped thornbill. (DOC 50 kb)
265_2010_1065_MOESM2_ESM.doc (52 kb)
Online Resource 2Rank order of the similarity to the begging calls of the parasitic shining cuckoo in Western Australia and its western thornbill host, for each acoustic distance measure. The parasite and its host are highlighted and the species of the genus Chalcites are marked (†, dagger). The names of the shining cuckoo hosts are in brackets and abbreviated for g.w., grey warbler; w.t., western thornbill; and y.r.t., yellow-rumped thornbill. (DOC 52 kb)
265_2010_1065_MOESM3_ESM.doc (51 kb)
Online Resource 3Rank order of the similarity to the begging calls of the parasitic Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo in Western Australia and its western thornbill host, for each acoustic distance measure. The parasite and its host are highlighted and the species of the genus Chalcites are marked (†, dagger). The names of the shining cuckoo hosts are in brackets and abbreviated for g.w., grey warbler; w.t., western thornbill; and y.r.t., yellow-rumped thornbill. (DOC 51 kb)
265_2010_1065_MOESM4_ESM.doc (54 kb)
Online Resource 4Rank order of the similarity to the begging calls of the parasitic long-tailed cuckoo in New Zealand and its yellowhead, whitehead, and brown creeper hosts, for each acoustic distance measure. The parasite and its host are highlighted and the species of the genus Chalcites are marked (†, dagger). The names of the shining cuckoo hosts are in brackets and abbreviated for g.w., grey warbler; w.t., western thornbill; and y.r.t., yellow-rumped thornbill. (DOC 54 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis Ranjard
    • 1
  • Michael G. Anderson
    • 2
  • Matt J. Rayner
    • 3
    • 4
  • Robert B. Payne
    • 5
  • Ian McLean
    • 6
  • James V. Briskie
    • 7
  • Howard A. Ross
    • 1
  • Dianne H. Brunton
    • 2
  • Sarah M. N. Woolley
    • 8
  • Mark E. Hauber
    • 3
    • 9
  1. 1.Bioinformatics Institute, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Ecology and Conservation Group, Institute of Natural SciencesMassey UniversityAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd. (NIWA)NewmarketNew Zealand
  5. 5.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Department of ZoologyOtago UniversityDunedinNew Zealand
  7. 7.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  8. 8.Department of PsychologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  9. 9.Department of Psychology, Hunter CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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