Duet singing and repertoire use in threat signaling of the individual and the pair

L. Marshall-Ball, Peter James Bramwell Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Song-type switching rate and song matching have been shown to function as territorial signals in male solo song but, to our knowledge, seem not to have been previously studied in a duetting species. We studied the plain wren (Thryothorus modestus zeledoni), to test whether duets signalled threat through song-switching rates, or through phrase type or duet type matching. Increases in the rate of song switching appear to function as an anti-habituation device rather than as a specific signal of threat. Fitting with previous results that same-sex individuals share phrase types, but pairs do not share duet types, both males and females used duets to phrase type match to playback. Pairs, however, did not duet type match in response to playback, and this suggests that within the cooperative territory defence of the duet, each sex is targeting its aggression at same-sex competitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S440-S443
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2004


  • canebrake wren
  • duetting
  • repertoire sharing


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