Animals can vary signal amplitude with receiver distance: evidence from zebra finch song
ABSTRACT Acoustic signals attenuate with the distance over which they travel, but a vocalizing animal might maintain signal transmission by increasing vocal amplitude when addressing a distant receiver. Such behaviour is well known in humans as speakers vary vocal amplitude with changing distance from an audience, a phenomenon that has been interpreted as resulting from our higher cognitive abilities. However, whether nonhuman animals are capable of this form of vocal adjustment appears to be unknown. We investigated whether birds are also able to regulate the amplitude of their vocal signals depending on receiver distance. Male zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, increased their song amplitude with increasing distance to addressed females, indicating that songbirds, like humans, respond to differences in communication distance and that they adjust vocal amplitude accordingly. Our findings show that animal communication is flexible in a previously unsuspected way, and that human speech and bird song share a basic mechanism for ensuring signal transmission. We suggest that this behaviour can be accounted for by simple proximate mechanisms rather than by the cognitive abilities that have been thought necessary in humans.
- SourceAvailable from: Solveig Mouterde[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Assessing the active space of the various types of information encoded by songbirds' vocalizations is important to address questions related to species ecology (e.g. spacing of individuals), as well as social behavior (e.g. territorial and/or mating strategies). Up to now, most of the previous studies have investigated the degradation of species-specific related information (species identity), and there is a gap of knowledge of how finer-grained information (e.g. individual identity) can transmit through the environment. Here we studied how the individual signature coded in the zebra finch long distance contact call degrades with propagation.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(7):e102842. · 3.53 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Zebra finches are a ubiquitous model system for the study of vocal learning in animal communication. Their song has been well described, but its possible function(s) in social communication are only partly understood. The so-called 'directed song' is a high-intensity, high-performance song given during courtship in close proximity to the female, which is known to mediate mate choice and mating. However, this singing mode constitutes only a fraction of zebra finch males' prolific song output. Potential communicative functions of their second, 'undirected' singing mode remain unresolved in the face of contradicting reports of both facilitating and inhibiting effects of social company on singing. We addressed this issue by experimentally manipulating social contexts in a within-subject design, comparing a solo versus male or female only company condition, each lasting for 24h. Males' total song output was significantly higher when a conspecific was in audible and visible distance than when they were alone. Male and female company had an equally facilitating effect on song output. Our findings thus indicate that singing motivation is facilitated rather than inhibited by social company, suggesting that singing in zebra finches might function both in inter- and intrasexual communication.Behavioural Processes 09/2012; 91(3):222-266. · 1.51 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Many bioacoustic studies have been able to identify individual mammals from variations in the fundamental frequency (F 0) of their vocalizations. Other characteristics of vocalization which encode individuality, such as amplitude, are less frequently used because of problems with background noise and recording fidelity over distance. In this paper, we investigate whether the inclusion of amplitude variables improves the accuracy of individual howl identification in captive Eastern grey wolves (Canis lupus lycaon). We also explore whether the use of a bespoke code to extract the howl features, combined with histogram-derived principal component analysis (PCA) values, can improve current individual wolf howl identification accuracies. From a total of 89 solo howls from six captive individuals, where distances between wolf and observer were short, we achieved 95.5% (+9.0% improvement) individual identification accuracy of captive wolves using discriminant function analysis (DFA) to classify simple scalar variables of F 0 and normalized amplitudes. Moreover, this accuracy was increased by 100% when using histogram-derived PCA values of F 0 and amplitudes of the first harmonic. We suggest that individual identification accuracy can be improved by including amplitude changes for species where F 0 has only been included so far. Using DFA on PCA values of both F 0 and amplitude could optimize vocal identification in a range of mammal bioacoustic studies.Bioacoustics 07/2013; · 0.89 Impact Factor