Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 145–152

Dealing with urban noise: vermilion flycatchers sing longer songs in noisier territories

  • Alejandro Ariel Ríos-Chelén
  • Esmeralda Quirós-Guerrero
  • Diego Gil
  • Constantino Macías Garcia
Original Paper

Abstract

In noisy conditions, several avian species modulate their songs in amplitude and in the temporal or frequency domains, presumably to improve communication. Most studies on how passerine birds perform such adjustments have been carried out in oscines, a group well known for the importance of learning in the development of their songs. On the other hand, suboscines, in which learning appears to have little influence on the development of their songs, have been largely neglected. We evaluated song adjustment to noise in the vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus), a suboscine bird. We conducted song recordings and noise measurements at several territories within Mexico City during the length of the dawn chorus. Males living in noisier places sang long songs, while those males inhabiting quieter places sang both short and long songs. We also found evidence of individual song plasticity, as males sang less versatile songs (i.e., songs with more introductory elements) later in the morning when noise levels were higher. This individual shift in song seems to be more associated to time of the day rather than to the observed rise in noise. However, we cannot discard an effect of noise, which should be evaluated with an experiment. We discuss our results in the context of other studies with oscine passerines and other taxa and consider implications for signaling in intra- and intersexual contexts.

Keywords

Vermilion flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus Noise Bird song Suboscine Song plasticity 

References

  1. Bermúdez-Cuamatzin E, Ríos-Chelén AA, Gil D, Macías Garcia C (2009) Strategies of song adaptation to urban noise in the house finch: syllable pitch plasticity or differential syllable use? Behaviour 146:1269–1286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bermúdez-Cuamatzin E, Ríos-Chelén AA, Gil D, Macías Garcia C (2011) Experimental evidence for real-time song frequency shift in response to urban noise in a passerine bird. Biol Lett 7:36–38PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brumm H (2004) The impact of environmental noise on song amplitude in a territorial bird. J Anim Ecol 73:434–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brumm H, Slabbekoorn H (2005) Acoustic communication in noise. Adv Stud Behav 35:151–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brumm H, Slater PJB (2006) Ambient noise, motor fatigue, and serial redundancy in chaffinch song. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 60:475–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brumm H, Voss K, Köllmer I, Todt D (2004) Acoustic communication in noise: regulation of call characteristics in a New World monkey. J Exp Biol 207:443–448PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Catchpole CK, Slater PJB (2008) Bird song: biological themes and variations. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chesser RT (2004) Molecular systematics of New World suboscine birds. Mol Phylogenet Evol 32:11–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christie PJ, Mennill DJ, Ratcliffe LM (2004) Pitch shifts and song structure indicate male quality in the dawn chorus of black-capped chickadees. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 55:341–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eens M, Rivera-Gutierrez HF, Pinxten R (2012) Are low-frequency songs sexually selected, and do they lose their potency in male–female interactions under noisy conditions? P Natl Acad Sci USA 109:E208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fernández-Juricic E, Poston R, de Collibus K, Morgan T, Bastain B, Artin C, Jones K, Treminio T (2005) Microhabitat selection and singing behavior patterns of male house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in urban parks in a heavily urbanized landscape in the western U.S. Urban Habitats 3:49–69Google Scholar
  12. Forstmeier W, Kempenaers B, Meyer A, Leisler B (2002) A novel song parameter correlates with extra-pair paternity and reflects male longevity. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:1479–1485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Francis CD, Ortega CP, Cruz A (2009) Noise pollution changes avian communities and species interactions. Curr Biol 19:1415–1419PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Francis CD, Ortega CP, Cruz A (2011a) Vocal frequency change reflects different responses to anthropogenic noise in two suboscine tyrant flycatchers. Proc R Soc Lond B 278:2025–2031CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Francis CD, Ortega CP, Cruz A (2011b) Different behavioural responses to anthropogenic noise by two closely related passerine birds. Biol Lett 7:850–852PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fuller RA, Warren PH, Gaston KJ (2007) Daytime noise predicts nocturnal singing in urban robins. Biol Lett 3:368–370PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Galeotti P, Saino N, Sacchi R, Møller A (1997) Song correlates with social context, testosterone and body condition in male barn swallows. Anim Behav 53:687–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gross K, Pasinelli G, Kunc HP (2010) Behavioral plasticity allows short-term adjustment to a novel environment. Am Nat 176:456–464PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Halfwerk W, Slabbekoorn H (2009) A behavioral mechanism explaining noise-dependent frequency use in urban birdsong. Anim Behav 78:1301–1307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Halfwerk W, Holleman LJM, Lessells CM, Slabbekoorn H (2011a) Negative impact of traffic noise on avian reproductive success. J Appl Ecol 48:210–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Halfwerk W, Botb S, Buikxa J, van der Velde M, Komdeur J, ten Cate C, Slabbekoorn H (2011b) Low-frequency songs lose their potency in noisy urban conditions. P Natl Acad Sci USA 108:14549–14554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hanna D, Blouin-Demers G, Wilson DR, Mennill DJ (2011) Anthropogenic noise affects song structure in red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). J Exp Biol 214:3549–3556PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hasselquist D, Bensch S, von Schantz T (1996) Correlation between male song repertoire, extra-pair paternity and offspring survival in the great reed warbler. Nature 381:229–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hu Y, Cardoso GC (2009) Are bird species that vocalize at higher frequencies preadapted to inhabit noisy urban areas? Behav Ecol 20:1268–1273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jouventin P, Aubin T, Lengagne T (1999) Finding a parent in a king penguin colony: the acoustic system of individual recognition. Anim Behav 57:1175–1183PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kuitunen M, Rossi E, Stenroos A (1998) Do highways influence density of land birds? Environ Manage 22:297–302PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lengagne T, Aubin T, Lauga J, Jouventin P (1999) How do king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) apply the mathematical theory of information to communicate in windy conditions? Proc R Soc Lond B 266:1623–1628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Love EK, Bee MA (2010) An experimental test of noise-dependent voice amplitude regulation in Cope’s grey treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis. Anim Behav 80:509–515PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moran MD (2003) Arguments for rejecting the sequential Bonferroni in ecological studies. Oikos 100:403–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Murphy MT, Sexton K, Dolan AC, Redmond LJ (2008) Dawn song of the eastern kingbird: an honest signal of male quality? Anim Behav 75:1075–1084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nakagawa S (2004) A farewell to Bonferroni: the problems of low statistical power and publication bias. Behav Ecol 15:1044–1045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nemeth W, Brumm H (2009) Blackbirds sing higher-pitched songs in cities: adaptation to habitat acoustics or side-effect of urbanization? Anim Behav 78:637–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Parris KM, Schneider A (2008) Impacts of traffic noise and traffic volume on birds of roadside habitats. Ecol Soc 14:29Google Scholar
  34. Patricelli GL, Blickley JL (2006) Avian communication in urban noise: causes and consequences of vocal adjustment. Auk 123:639–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Podos J (1997) A performance constraint on the evolution of trilled vocalizations in a songbird family (Passeriformes: Emberizidae). Evolution 51:537–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Potash LM (1972) Noise-induced changes in calls of the Japanese quail. Psychon Sci 26:252–254Google Scholar
  37. Potvin DA, Parris KM, Mulder RA (2011) Geographically pervasive effects of urban noise on frequency and syllable rate of songs and calls in silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis). Proc R Soc Lond B 278:2464–2469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reijnen R, Foppen R (1994) The effects of car traffic on breeding bird populations in woodland. I. Evidence of reduced habitat quality for willow warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus) breeding close to a highway. J Appl Ecol 31:85–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reijnen R, Foppen R, ter Braak C, Thissen J (1995) The effects of car traffic on breeding bird populations in woodland. III. Reduction of density in relation to the proximity of main roads. J Appl Ecol 32:187–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ríos Chelén AA, Macías Garcia C, Riebel K (2005) Variation in the song of a sub-oscine, the vermilion flycatcher. Behaviour 142:1121–1138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ríos-Chelén AA (2009) Bird song: the interplay between urban noise and sexual selection. Oecol Brasil 13:153–16Google Scholar
  42. Ríos-Chelén AA, Macías Garcia C (2007) Responses of a sub-oscine bird during playback: effects of different song variants and breeding period. Behav Process 74:319–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ríos-Chelén AA, Macias-García C (2004) Flight display song of the vermilion flycatcher. Wilson Bull 116:360–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ríos-Chelén AA, Salaberria C, Barbosa I, Macías Garcia C, Gil D (2012) The learning advantage: bird species that learn their song show a tighter adjustment of song to noisy environments than those that do not learn. J Evol Biol. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02597.x
  45. Slabbekoorn H, den Boer-Visser A (2006) Cities change the songs of birds. Curr Biol 16:2326–2331PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Slabbekoorn H, Peet M (2003) Birds sing at higher pitch in urban noise. Nature 426:267–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smith WJ (1967) Displays of the vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus). Condor 69:601–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Swaddle JP, Page LC (2007) High levels of environmental noise erode pair preferences in zebra finches: implications for noise pollution. Anim Behav 74:363–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tumer EC, Brainard MS (2007) Performance variability enables adaptive plasticity of ‘crystallized’ adult birdsong. Nature 450:1240–1244PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Verzijden MN, Ripmeester EAP, Ohms VR, Snelderwaard P, Slabbekoorn H (2010) Immediate spectral flexibility in singing chiffchaffs during experimental exposure to highway noise. J Exp Biol 213:2575–2581PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wood WE, Yezerinac SM (2006) Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) song varies with urban noise. Auk 123:650–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zollinger SA, Podos J, Nemeth E, Goller F, Brumm H (2012) On the relationship between, and measurement of, amplitude and frequency in bird song. Anim Behav 84:e1–e9CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro Ariel Ríos-Chelén
    • 1
    • 3
  • Esmeralda Quirós-Guerrero
    • 1
  • Diego Gil
    • 2
  • Constantino Macías Garcia
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de EcologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)MadridSpain
  3. 3.Department of Evolution and EcologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations