A duetting perspective on avian song learning
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Avian song learning has a rich history of study and has become the preeminent system for understanding the ontogeny of vocal communication in animals. Song learning in birds has many parallels with human language learning, ranging from the neural mechanisms involved to the importance of social factors in shaping signal acquisition. While much has been learned about the process of song learning, virtually all of the research done to date has focused on temperate species, where often only one sex (the male) sings. Duetting species, in which both males and females learn to sing and learn to combine their songs into temporally coordinated joint displays, could provide many insights into the processes by which vocal learning takes place. Here we highlight three key features of song learning—neuroendocrine control mechanisms, timing and life history stages of song acquisition, and the role of social factors in song selection and use—that have been elucidated from species where only males sing, and compare these with duetting species. We summarize what is known about song learning in duetting species and then provide several suggestions for fruitful directions for future research. We suggest that focusing research efforts on duetting species could significantly advance our understanding of vocal learning in birds and further cement the importance of avian species as models for understanding human conversations and the processes of vocal learning more broadly.
Rivera-Cáceres , K D & Templeton , C N 2017 , ' A duetting perspective on avian song learning ' , Behavioural Processes , vol. In press . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.12.007
© 2017 Elsevier B. V. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.12.007
DescriptionThis work was supported with funds from Pacific University and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust (to C.N.T.) and a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a Student Research Grant provided by the Animal Behavior Society, a Research Grant provided by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), and funds from the University of Miami (to K.D.R.C.).
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