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Songs of the wild: Temporal and geographical distinctions in the acoustic properties of the songs of the yellow -breasted chat

Jacqueline Lee Canterbury, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The Yellow-breasted Chat, Icteria virens, is a member of the wood-warbler family, Parulidae, and exists as eastern I. v. virens and western I. v. auricollis subspecies. It is the only wood-warbler known to sing diurnally and nocturnally. ^ One objective was to determine whether the eastern and western subspecies produce songs that differ acoustically; another was to determine whether a western population of Chats in Nebraska produces songs that differ acoustically at dawn and at night. Properties measured were maximum frequency, maximum power, notes/second, singing rate, and % time singing. In addition, the inter-song interval and % whistle notes were measured in dawn/night song. ^ Recordings were obtained from Borror and Cornell Laboratories; 2,429 western and 2,434 eastern songs were analyzed. Two-way ANOVA revealed that the larger western subspecies, in more open habitats, had higher maximum frequency at dawn and day (P<0.05); maximum power was 25x greater in western song at day vs. dawn (P<0.0001); for dawn song, eastern maximum power was greater than western (P<0.0001). No differences were found in notes/second, singing rate, % time spent singing (P>0.05). The relationship between body size and song frequency was unexpectedly inversely related, indicating that the denser eastern habitat was more influential on song than size. ^ Recordings of 3,469 dawn and night songs from five male western Chat subspecies were analyzed. ANOVA revealed that Chats used significantly lower mean song frequencies and longer inter-song intervals at night (P <0.05). The lower frequencies are believed to be ecologically functional for long distance communication in attracting night-migrating females. Whistle notes occurred at night (15% per male), but were not recorded from any male in dawn song; whistles degrade less with distance and may be important in mate attraction. Inter-song intervals were longer at night (P<0.05), possibly allowing males to listen for female responses. ^ Overall, the results indicate that Chats vary certain components of their song depending on geographic location and time of day. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Ecology|Agriculture, Forestry and Wildlife

Recommended Citation

Canterbury, Jacqueline Lee, "Songs of the wild: Temporal and geographical distinctions in the acoustic properties of the songs of the yellow -breasted chat" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3284212.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3284212

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