Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Low-pitched song indicates fairy-wren size

Date:
February 20, 2013
Source:
University of Melbourne
Summary:
A male fairy-wren's low pitch song indicates body size, a new study has shown.

Male purple-crowned fairy-wrens sing trill songs in response to predator calls. They seem to take advantage of the attention attracted by predator calls, and sing their advertising songs when females are paying most attention.
Credit: Michelle L Hall

A male fairy-wren's low pitch song indicates body size, a new international study has shown. The study led by University of Melbourne researcher Dr Michelle Hall, is the first to show that the larger the male fairy wren, the lower the pitch of his song.

"This is the first time we have been able to show that song pitch indicates body size in song birds," said Dr Hall from the University's Department of Zoology.

The study, which began when Dr Hall was at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, has been published February 20 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Reliable communication about body size between animals is particularly important when communicating with mates or rivals. For example the bigger the rival is, the more likely it is to win in a fight so a song pitch indicating a large size may deter rivals.

"Surprisingly, there is very little evidence that the pitch of calls indicates body size differences within species, except in frogs," she said.

"In birds in particular, there has been no evidence that the pitch of songs indicated the size of the singer until now."

The study involved measuring the leg length (a good indicator of overall body size) of 45 adult male purple-crowned fairy-wrens. It found there was a correlation between the lowest song pitches and male size.

"We found the bigger males sang certain song types at a lower pitch than smaller males," she said.

Purple-crowned fairy-wrens are creek-dwelling birds from northern Australia and, like their close relatives the blue wrens, males sing trill songs after the calls of certain predators, a context that seems to attract the attention of females.

Males have a repertoire of trill song variants, and it is the low-pitched variants that indicate the size of the singer.

Dr Hall showed that it may be the complexity of birdsong that has obscured the relationship between body size and song frequency in the past.

"Birds can have large repertoires of song types spanning a wide frequency range, and some birds even shift the pitch of their songs down in aggressive contexts," she said.

"Focusing on the lowest pitches that males were able to sing was the key to finding the correlation with body size."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Melbourne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michelle L. Hall, Sjouke A. Kingma, Anne Peters. Male Songbird Indicates Body Size with Low-Pitched Advertising Songs. PLOS ONE, 20 Feb 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056717

Cite This Page:

University of Melbourne. "Low-pitched song indicates fairy-wren size." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220170732.htm>.
University of Melbourne. (2013, February 20). Low-pitched song indicates fairy-wren size. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220170732.htm
University of Melbourne. "Low-pitched song indicates fairy-wren size." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220170732.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins