Evidence of repertoire sharing and stability despite a high turnover rate in a duetting neotropical wren

Esmeralda Quiros Guerrero, Maria Joao Janeiro Silva, Will Cresswell, Christopher Neal Templeton

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In songbirds, the spatial pattern of song sharing among individuals is influenced by the song learning and dispersal strategies within each species. In birds where females and males sing and create joint acoustic displays (duets), the processes defining the patterns of song sharing become more complex as there might be different selection pressures shaping the behaviour of each sex. To provide further insight into the vocal development and the dispersal strategy of duetting tropical species, we investigated the patterns of individual and pair repertoire sharing, as well as the stability of these repertoires, in a colour‐marked population of riverside wrens, Cantorchilus semibadius, located in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Using data collected over a five‐year period, we found considerable variation in the sharing levels of phrase and duet type repertoires among neighbouring individuals coupled with a general decline of repertoire sharing as distance increased between birds’ territories. These results are consistent with a pattern predicted in age‐restricted learners that establish preferentially near their tutors. Furthermore, we found no evidence of individuals changing their phrase type repertoires over time, including after remating events. Duet type repertoires were also stable when pairs remained together. However, we observed a surprisingly high turnover rate. When individuals remated, even though the majority of the previous duet type repertoire remained, several new duet types were included. Taken together, our findings suggest that riverside wrens might create their individual repertoires by copying their same‐sex parent and neighbouring individuals before dispersal. Additionally, we speculate that even though birds were able to create new duet types after changing partners, a substantial portion of their duet type repertoire might also be copied from their parents and neighbouring pairs during the initial critical period of song learning.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02382
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number6
Early online date13 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Duet type
  • Phrase type
  • Repertoire sharing
  • Repertoire stability
  • Riverside wren
  • Turnover rate

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