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Temporal performance roles during vocal interactions in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos B.)


The temporal patterning of vocal interactions between territorial nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos B). was investigated during nocturnal dyadic singing. We distinguished three forms of temporal performance roles (Table 1; Fig. 3): inserter (preferred song start 0.5–1.0 s after offset of a neighbour's song), overlapper (preferred song start 0.5–1.0 s after onset of a neighbour's song), and Autonomous bird (no evidence for temporal responses adjusted to the timing of a neighbour's singing; Fig. 4). With the beginning of the daily dawn chorus, mutual temporal adjustment of song performances could no longer be ascertained (Fig. 2). To test the flexibility of song onset timing, we presented subjects with three playback programs (I, II, III) simulating a non-flexible conspecific bird. Sequences of songs recorded from a stranger that shared no song types with the subjects were used; intersong pauses were unaltered in I, lengtened in II, and shortened in III. Results confirmed that the timing of song onset can be influenced by the temporal patterning of auditory stimuli (Table 1; Fig. 5): Inserters and overlappers sang at a slower rate during program II than during program I. During program III, which by accelerated stimulus succession caused frequent overlap of songs, inserters and overlappers interrupted their singing behaviour (Fig. 6). This suggests that overlapping, which results in signal interference, is of some functional significance in vocal interactions.

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Hultsch, H., Todt, D. Temporal performance roles during vocal interactions in nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos B.). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 11, 253–260 (1982).

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  • Temporal Patterning
  • Auditory Stimulus
  • Onset Timing
  • Temporal Response
  • Signal Interference