The response of female Mountain White-crowned Sparrows to songs from their natal dialect and an alien dialect

Abstract

Female Mountain White-crowned Sparrows from Colorado were tested in a laboratory playback experiment to determine their response to male songs from their own natal dialect and to those from an alien dialect of the same subspecies, Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha (Fig. 1). Observations were made on locomotor activity and copulation postures produced during each experimental test session. The subjects gave copulation displays almost exclusively when hearing their natal dialect and new or no displays when hearing the alien dialect (Fig. 2). The birds also exhibited significantly greater locomotor activity when hearing the natal dialect than they did when hearing the alien dialect (Fig. 3). We conclude that females are sensitized by their early song learning experience to be responsive to songs from their natal dialect and virtually sexually unresponsive to songs from an alien dialect. We speculate that the copulation posture given in the experiment implies that females in natural populations would preferably only mate assortatively with males from their natal dialect region.

DOI: 10.1007/BF00299682

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Cite this paper

@article{Baker2004TheRO, title={The response of female Mountain White-crowned Sparrows to songs from their natal dialect and an alien dialect}, author={Myron Charles Baker and Kimberly J. Spitler-Nabors and Dana C. Bradley}, journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology}, year={2004}, volume={10}, pages={175-179} }