Editor's Choice: A test for repertoire matching in eastern song sparrows

Submitted by Johan on 12 April 2016.

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By critical and elegant playback experiments the authors of this highly interesting study demonstrate that vocal signalling behaviour differs fundamentally between a western and eastern population of the same species (song sparrow, Melospiza melodia).

Male songbirds may communicate by replying to the song of another neighbouring individual by song type matching or repertoire matching. Such responses are part of a hierarchical system of aggressive signals. In one population of the song sparrow song sharing is high and responses by song matching are widespread, while in the other population song sharing is low and song matching behaviour plays no important role. The possible reasons for this surprising difference in vocal signalling strategies between populations remain to be understood.

Thomas Alerstam, Editor in chief

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Editor´s Choice