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: Henrik Brumm
Article: Acoustic Communication in NoiseAdvances in the Study of Behavior 01/2005; 35:151-209. · 3.18 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This study is a preliminary assessment of the potential of long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) calls to operate in systems of within-group spacing. Covariation in the rate of occurrence of calls with party spread, size, and activity among wild individuals of one group suggested that four classes of calls may function in intragroup spacing. Two of them are “clear” calls of long duration and pronounced frequency modulation. Calling rate increased with party spread for low- and high-frequency variants of these calls during resting and feeding respectively, suggesting possible utility in maintenance of spatial relations over moderately long distances. A third “harsh” call was negatively correlated with party spread during foraging and may thus function to increase dispersion among foraging individuals. Another harsh call with a tonal onset was unique among all calls in the vocal repertoire in being more frequently performed by lone, isolated individuals than by macaques accompanied by others, suggesting a possible function in reestablishing contact that has been severed. The functional significance of these calls with respect to their acoustic structures is discussed. Macaques that use calls to regulate intragroup spacing can control communication distance and direction by their choice of acoustically different vocalizations. This choice may be affected not only by varying environmental constraints on sound transmission, but also by social and ecological factors such as intragroup competition.International Journal of Primatology 13(2):183-207. · 1.79 Impact Factor
- American Naturalist - AMER NATURALIST. 01/1991; 138(4).