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 September 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 September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) 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