Heterospecific Discrimination of Poecile Vocalizations by Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

Lauren Guillette, Marisa Hoeschele, Allison Hahn, Christopher Sturdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous perceptual research with black-capped and mountain chickadees has demonstrated that the D note of the namesake chick-a-dee call controlled species-based discrimination compared to other note types in this call. In the current experiment, we sought to determine whether discrimination performance of the chickadees was controlled by stimulus-specific properties or due to learning through experience. To accomplish this, we tested zebra finches, a songbird species that is distantly related to chickadees, and also unfamiliar with black-capped and mountain chickadee vocalizations, on the same species-based discrimination on which black-capped and mountain chickadees were previously trained. We found that zebra finches learned the discrimination in the fewest number of trials with the D note, compared to other note types (i.e., the A, B, and C notes). In addition, we compared the current results to earlier work and found that zebra finches learned the discrimination in fewer trials compared to black-capped chickadees, and, across all species, males learned the discrimination in fewer trials than females. We discuss the roles that acoustic complexity and learning play in classification of the three species of songbirds tested. More generally, these results point to the benefits derived from testing members of each sex in species that vary in their natural history, vocal output, and phylogenetic relatedness as a means to uncover the mechanisms underlying acoustic communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227
Number of pages236
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Volume127
Issue number3
Early online date29 Oct 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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