PhD defence

The role of male song in spatial behavior and reproductive decisions in the great tit (Parus major)

Samenvatting (Engelstalig):

Elaborate ornaments of male animals often attract females and deter rivals and male birdsong is a classic example for such sexually selected signals. But are males that sing “better” early in the morning more successful in attracting females and keeping rivals at bay? And what information do song contests between males provide to eavesdroppers? We integrated automated longterm radio-tracking, acoustic recordings and playback experiments to determine what aspects of male song might be used by female and male birds to judge the quality of singers, using the great tit as a study system. Our results indicate, in contrast to the common view of birdsong, that females stayed away from territories of “better” singers, while males were attracted. Song contests did not appear to provide relevant information in females reproductive decisions. The function of birdsong within a social neighborhood thus appears more complex than simply deterring rivals and attracting mates when covert movements are considered.