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Song Sharing and Local Dialects in a Population of the European Wren Troglodytes Troglodytes

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Songs were recorded from a local population of 13 male wrens at Wraysbury Lakes, Berkshire, U.K. during 1991. Sonagraphic analysis revealed that there were 15 distinct song types in the population, and that each male had between three and six song types in his repertoire. Song sharing between neighbouring males was particularly high. Six of the males in the population were on the east bank of the lake, separated from the other seven on the west bank by 200 metres of open water. Although three song types were distributed over the whole area, six were unique to the east bank and six to the west. Any male could be classified as an east or west bank male, by the possession of several distinct song types unique to each 'dialect' area. So far, clear examples of dialects have been largely restricted to species with only one or two song types in their repertoires. Song sharing and the development of local dialects in the wren are discussed in relation to current views on mechanisms of social learning in songbirds.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Biology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX, U.K.


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