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Abstract

Song diversity results from the interactions between natural selection, sexual selection, and individual learning. To understand song diversity, all three factors must be considered collectively, not separately. Bengalese Finches were domesticated about 250 yr ago. Their courtship songs have become different from their ancestor, the White-rumped Munia. Bengalese Finches sing songs with complex note-to-note transition patterns and with acoustically diverse song notes while White-rumped Munias sing songs with fixed note sequence and mostly broad band song notes. Bengalese Finches were selected for domestication based on their good parenting ability, not their songs, but this artificial selection has nonetheless affected their songs. To test whether divergence occurred not only in the song phenotypes but also in the genetic basis for predisposition of strain specific song learning, we conducted a cross-fostering experiment between Bengalese Finches and White-rumped Munias. In both strains, song learning was affected by rearing condition: the acoustical feature and transition patterns followed those of the foster fathers. However, the accuracy of song learning differed between the wild and the domesticated strains: sharing of song note between sons and tutors in Finches was not very accurate regardless of the tutor, while Munias were highly accurate in copying Munia songs but often omitted song elements from Finch fathers. These results suggest that White-rumped Munias are strongly constrained to learn their own strain’s song, and that this constraint was relaxed in the Bengalese Finch by domestication.