Female conspecifics restore rhythmic singing behaviour in arrhythmic male zebra finches
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The present study investigated whether pairing with a conspecific female would restore rhythmicity in the singing behaviour of arrhythmic male songbirds. We recorded the singing and, as the circadian response indicator, monitored the activity–rest pattern in male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) housed without or with a conspecific female under 12 h light: 12 h darkness (12L:12D) or constant bright light (LLbright). Both unpaired and paired birds exhibited a significant daily rhythm in the singing and activity behaviour, but paired birds, under 12L:12D, showed a ~2 h extension in the evening. Exposure to LLbright decayed rhythmicity, but the female presence restored rhythmic patterns without affecting the 24 h song output. In the acoustic features, we found a significant difference in the motif duration between unpaired and paired male songs. Overall, these results demonstrated for the first time the role of the female in restoring the circadian phenotype of singing behaviour in male songbirds with disrupted circadian functions, although how interaction between sexes affects the circadian timing of male singing is not understood yet. It is suggested that social cues rendered by a conspecific female could improve the circadian performance by restoring rhythmicity in the biological functions of the cohabiting arrhythmic male partner.
KeywordsCircadian rhythm social cue song songbird zebra finch
Delhi University R&D and DST-DU PURSE grants supported this research. NAJ received a Senior Research Fellowship from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. The facility used for research was built under the support from IRHPA Center for Excellence Research Grant from the Department of Science and Technology (Science and Engineering Research Board).
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