Visual and behavioural influences on song tutor choice in Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)
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Using a laboratory approach, this thesis further' investigates patterns of song learning in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Chapter 1 provides a background to the form and function of song learning in a broad context, and introduces the zebra finch and the major role it has played in this field of research. In Chapters 2 and 3, a strong influence of early visual imprinting on song tutor choice is demonstrated. Tutors of the same colour morph as the parents were much preferred. Song heard before or after the sensitive phase was often produced, if no tutor of the parental morph was present during this period. There was no clear evidence for one parent having a greater influence in this respect than the other. Differences were found between the morph preference for mates and song tutors, and possible reasons for these are discussed. Chapter 4 revealed that the mother may influence tutor choice, probably by attentiveness to her by her offspring increasing their exposure to the song of an accompanying male. There was also a preference for a paired, rather than a single, male. In Chapter 5, song tutor choice was studied in aviaries and related to behaviour occurring in this more naturalistic environment. A preference for learning the father's song was found). Specific types of interaction did not link overall with song copying, but the amount of time that birds spent within close proximity did. General aspects of behaviour evident in the aviaries are discussed. The final chapter demonstrated that a short distance (38 cm) between tutor and tutee can be sufficient to inhibit song learning, probably because of the reduced scope for interaction.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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