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Microgeographic Variation, Habitat Effects and Individual Signature Cues in Calls of Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita canarensis

Authors

  • Marc Naguib,

    1. Verhaltensbiologie, Freie Universität Berlin; German Primate Center, Göttingen; Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin; Department of Animal Behavior, University of Bielefeld
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  • Kurt Hammerschmidt,

    1. Verhaltensbiologie, Freie Universität Berlin; German Primate Center, Göttingen; Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin; Department of Animal Behavior, University of Bielefeld
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  • Jutta Wirth

    1. Verhaltensbiologie, Freie Universität Berlin; German Primate Center, Göttingen; Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin; Department of Animal Behavior, University of Bielefeld
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Marc Naguib, Department of Animal Behavior, University of Bielefeld, PO Box 100131, D-33501 Bielefeld, Germany. E-mail: marc.naguib@biologie.uni-bielefeld.de

Abstract

Variation of signals is a widespread feature in animal communication. Signals usually vary among signallers and in some cases vary across geographic areas. Individual variation provides the basis for individual recognition and thus has important implications for social interactions. Microgeographic variation can reveal insights into patterns of dispersal and into timing and mechanism of acquisition or development of behavioral traits. In addition, it may reflect adaptations of signals to the transmission characteristics of local habitat types. In song birds these kinds of variation have been documented in particular for male song. Here, we examined individual signature cues, site-specific variation, and variation among habitat types in tonal contact calls of 26 chiffchaffs, Phylloscopus collybita canarensis, recorded on two Canary islands. Multiparametric analyses of calls and subsequent discriminant function analyses revealed clear individual differences as well as microgeographic variation in call structure. Call structures differed not only between islands but also among the different locations on Tenerife, indicating that individuals on the same island do not share the same call, as suggested earlier. Calls recorded in different types of habitat, however, did not differ in structure as predicted by the ‘acoustic adaptation hypothesis’. The findings indicate that individual recognition may be possible on the basis of calls and they contribute to the understanding of development of behavioural trails in relation to life history patterns such as the timing and pattern of dispersal.

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