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Song Tutoring Influences Female Song Preferences in Domesticated Canaries

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Laboratory experiments were designed to examine the influence of previous acoustic experience on later song preferences in female domesticated canaries (Serinus canaria). Young females were reared in acoustic isolation (five groups). In these five groups, one was reared without tutoring and four were exposed to taped tutoring songs (playbacks of three different songs, two conspecific and one heterospecific). One of the four tutored groups was exposed to all three songs, while each of the remaining groups was exposed to one of the three songs. When adult, all females were tested using copulation solicitation displays as an index of their song preferences. We demonstrated that females reared without tutoring were especially responsive to a particular domesticated canary song. This song contained a special song phrase type (Vallet & Kreutzer, 1995) that elicits high levels of sexual response. In general, a similar preference was also observed in the groups reared with tutoring. In addition, the females' preferences in tutored groups were also positively and strongly affected by conspecific songs, when these songs had been heard during the previous tutoring. In fact, females seemed to be able to selectively respond to a song containing a special song phrase, but were also able to learn conspecific songs.

Affiliations: 1: CNRS URA 2214, Laboratoire de Psychophysiologie et d'Ethologie, Université Paris X, 92000 Nanterre, France


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