Title

Sex differences in singing and duetting behavior of neotropical Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus)

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Publication Title

Auk

Volume

122

Issue

1

First Page

175

Last Page

186

Abstract

In many tropical bird species, males and females sing together in coordinated vocal duets. Although studies of duetting present unique opportunities for understanding conflict and cooperation between the sexes, very few investigations describe the similarities and differences between male and female singing behaviors. Here, we present the first detailed account of the singing behavior of Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus), a resident tropical duetting songbird. Male and female songs share a similar structure, yet show pronounced sex differences. Male songs have lower frequency characteristics and more repeated trill syllables, and often sound louder than female songs. Males sing more than females, and only males show elevated song output at dawn. Both males and females have song repertoires. Males have an average repertoire size of 10.8 song types, whereas females have a significantly smaller average repertoire size of 8.5 song types. Although males share proportionately more of their song types with neighbors than females do, both sexes share more song types with nearby individuals than with distant individuals. Breeding partners combine their solo songs to create duets. Duets assume a variety of different forms, ranging from simple, overlapping male and female songs to complex combinations of multiple male and female songs. Most duets (73%) are created by females responding to male song. Males respond to female-initiated duets with shorter latencies than when females respond to male-initiated duets. Each pair sings certain combinations of song types in duets more often than can be explained by random association, which demonstrates that Rufous-and-white Wrens have duet types. The most common duet type was different for each pair. Our results show that Rufous-and-white Wrens have pronounced sex differences in song structure, singing activity, repertoire size, repertoire sharing, and duetting behavior. © The American Ornithologists' Union, 2005.

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