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Behaviour genetic analysis of selective song learning in three inbred canary strains

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Thirty-three male canaries were reared as isolates in acoustic chambers. Each male's sexchromosomes and autosomal background were known to strain. The research included two experiments. One tested the hypothesis that the low-pitched songs of waterslager canaries is due to a partial hearing deficit in the high frequency range of their hearing, limiting learning high-pitched syllables. That hypothesis was falsified and the apparent cause for the low-pitched songs was uncovered in the second experiment. That experiment tutored the males with a tutor tape that offered six different canary songs to learn from. The experimental subjects included roller, waterslager, and border canaries, their hybrids and backcrosses. The selective learning of each genetically different group was closely associated with their specific genetic background, and the results revealed that roller and waterslager canaries have very different genetic mechanisms affecting their song learning, and that a waterslager, recessive, autosomal factor, when homozygous, was associated with that strain's low-pitched songs. On the other hand, the low-pitched songs of roller canaries were primarily affected by a recessive sex-linked factor. Border canary selective learning was biased toward learning the higher-pitched syllables and tours characteristic of the songs of border and other type canary strains.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Queens College of the City University of New York, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY 11367, USA;, Email:


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