Mar 30, 2020

Introductory gestures before songbird vocal displays are shaped by learning and biological predispositions

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Daniel P. RiceRaghav Rajan


Introductory gestures are present at the beginning of many animal displays. For example, lizards start their head-bobbing displays with introductory push-ups and animal vocal displays begin with introductory notes. Songbirds also begin their vocal displays by repeating introductory notes (INs) before producing their learned song and these INs are thought to reflect motor preparation. Between individuals of a given species, the acoustic structure of INs and the number of times INs are repeated before song varies considerably. While similar variation in songs between individuals is known to be a result of learning, whether INs are also learned remains poorly understood. Here, using natural and experimental tutoring with male zebra finches, we show that mean IN number and IN acoustic structure are learned from a tutor, independent of song learning. We also reveal biological predispositions in IN production; birds artificially tutored with songs lacking INs still repeated a short-duration syllable, thrice on average, before their songs. Overall, these results show that INs, just like elements in song, are shaped both by learning and biological predispositions and suggest multiple, independent, learning processes underlying the acqu...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Population Group
Biological Evolution
Epistasis, Genetic

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