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An Experimental Analysis of the Use of Location Calls By Japanese Quail, Coturnix Coturnix Japonica

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Three experiments were undertaken to study location calls used by Japanese quail. The first experiment was carried out to examine differences in emission of structurally similar locaton calls by Japanese quail, Coturnix coturnix japonica, in different contexts. Such comparisons may reveal the possible course of evolution of one call from another. Comparison between the unmated male Japanese quail's crow and the mated male's separation crow indicates the following similarities and differences: a. The same physical unit, the three part crow, is being used in both instances. The same inter-individual differences between crows of unmated males are also found between their separation crows. b. A staccato call normally accompanies separation crowing whereas this is not the case in crowing of unmated males. The individual notes of the staccato call closely resemble those emitted by the male while tidbitting. c. The crow emitted by unmated males is louder and less variable in intensity than is the separation crow. d. Separation crows occur in temporal groups or bouts whereas the crows of the unmated male usually occur individually. Initial crows within a bout are relatively faint. The second experiment was undertaken to study the function of the separation crow, the staccato call, and the cricket call. In this experiment, pairs of quail were successively housed in a series of interconnected compartments. Separation and contact maintenance were controlled by the animals own movements. The calls emitted by the animals were tape recorded and their positions were recorded every 5 seconds. Three lines of evidence for the three calls serving as location calls were examined: 1. The call is emitted primarily when visual contact between animals is attenuated or absent. 2. The call is answered with another call that is a known location call. 3. The call causes locomotor behavior in the receiver that results in contact maintenance or establishment. The data show that the cricket and separation crow serve as location calls and provide evidence for the staccato call serving as a location call as well. The effect of increased ambient noise level upon the emission of the separation crow when separation is due to movements of the male and female was also assessed. Significantly more separation crows and instances of separation crowing occurred during the high ambient noise level condition. Analysis of the positional data indicate that the differences are not due to differences in visual contact. The effect of ambient noise level on separation crowing was explained in terms of 2 factors: a. A direct stimulatory effect upon the male perhaps due to masking of the fainter staccato call as well as the separation crows emitted by the male. Previous work by the author supports this conclusion. b. An indirect effect upon the male caused by masking of noises and vocalizations emitted by the female. Data from a third experiment in which male separation crowing was measured under conditions of visual and visual and acoustical isolation from the female support this conclusion.

Affiliations: 1: University of Alberta, Canada

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