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Significance of Antiphonal Song in the Eastern Whipbird, Psophodes Olivaceus

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A spectrographic analysis of the antiphonal song of the Eastern Whipbird, Psophodes olivaceus was carried out. Preliminary results show an overall constancy of male song and a marked geographical variation in female song. Male song is shown to consist of two components: the introduction, which is individually variable; and the whip-crack, which is rigidly species specific. Individual male birds use a series of up to four distinct frequency bands in their introduction. The female antiphonal component shows an individual variation but a constant pattern in any one area. There is a slow development of antiphonal song in juvenile pairs. Both sexes have specialised non-directional nest approach calls. Tentative conclusions indicate a threefold function of antiphony in this species: maintainance of contact; maintainance of the pair bond; and territorial advertisement and display. The song of P. olivaceus is discussed in relation to P. nigrogularis and other Passerine antiphonal species. There is a discussion of the possible origin, evolution and adaptive significance of antiphony in P. olivaceus.

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Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia


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