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Ranging of Conspecific Songs By Kentucky Warblers and Its Implications for Interactions of Territorial Males

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Kentucky warblers (Oporornis formosus) each sing a single song pattern. To determine whether males could range (estimate the distance to) conspecific songs, we presented clean and reverberated versions of strangers' songs to 12 males in a factorial design. To assess differences between the playbacks and the subjects' own songs or neighbors' songs, we measured differences in minimal repetition periods between repeated acoustic elements in songs, features that could contribute to assessment of reverberation. Results indicated that Kentucky warblers can range conspecific songs and that similarity between playback songs and established neighbors' songs or a subject's own songs did not enhance this ability. Direct evidence that males misjudged the distance to reverberated playbacks excluded other interpretations of the results based on differences in the detectability or habituation of clean and reverberated songs. These results suggest further that assessment of reverberation is sufficient for ranging and that perceptual analysis of song is not necessarily linked to overt production. As a consequence, repertoires of songs do not necessarily promote interference between territorial neighbors.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, USA


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