Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dan Mennill


Biological sciences



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


In tropical bird species where both males and females sing, breeding partners may coordinate their songs in vocal duets. This thesis explores relationships between vocal duetting behaviour and reproductive activities in neotropical Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus). In Chapter 2 I describe the previously unknown genetic mating strategy of this species. Extra-pair paternity accounted for two percent of nestlings in three of 51 broods. In Chapter 3 I test four hypotheses for duet function: the reproductive synchrony, paternity guarding, signalling quality, and signalling commitment hypotheses. I found little support for these hypotheses, although female duet output appears to signal willingness to invest in future reproductive activities. Previous studies demonstrate that duets play an important role in acoustic contact, territory defence, and mate guarding. Together with the findings of this thesis, the cumulative research on Rufous-and-white Wrens suggests duets play a role in other activities more so than in reproductive behaviour.