Testing female chaffinch song preferences by operant conditioning

K Riebel, P J B Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hand-reared female chaffinches, Fringilla coelebs, were tape-tutored just after fledging. In the subsequent spring (i.e. their first breeding season) they were successfully trained in an operant conditioning task where they could trigger song playback by perching on either of two short lever-type perches. In a given trial, one of the four songs that had been used for tutoring was paired with a song type unknown to the subject. The subjects showed no overall preference for either the familiar or unfamiliar song types. In a second experiment one breeding season later, the same females were confronted with two versions of one song with and without the species-specific terminal flourish. The majority of females preferred the version with a terminal flourish. The results of this preliminary study suggest that, at least in our small laboratory sample, female chaff inch song preferences vary individually for songs within the species-specific range and that exposure to a particular song type early in life plays a minor role, if any, in forming their preferences. Operant conditioning with song as a reinforcer can be used in the laboratory as an alternative method to measures of approach to test individual females' song preferences, with the great advantage that the control over the stimulus is left with the subject. (C) 1998 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1443-1453
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume56
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998

Keywords

  • WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS
  • MIXED-DIALECT POPULATION
  • BIRD-SONG
  • MATE CHOICE
  • CULTURAL TRANSMISSION
  • SPECIES RECOGNITION
  • SEXUAL DIFFERENCES
  • REPERTOIRE SIZE
  • ZEBRA FINCH
  • TAPED SONG

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