Lack of noise dependent song parameter adjustments between urban vs. forest habitats in a common European songbird — ASN Events

Lack of noise dependent song parameter adjustments between urban vs. forest habitats in a common European songbird (#676)

Krzysztof Deoniziak 1 , Tomasz S. Osiejuk 1
  1. Department of Behavioural Ecology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

Living in noisy environment can have a strong negative impact on signal transmission [1]. Since birds rely on their acoustic communication on a daily basis [2], it is crucial for them to be heard by their signal receivers and be sure that receivers get signal in a shape well enough to decode information [3]. Studies show that some bird species change their song parameters while singing in unfavorable noisy conditions [4, 5]. Our objective was to compare song parameters of the chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, a common urban breeding songbird, between habitats with different noise levels.

We recorded singing chaffinch males from similar habitats of urban (N=71) and forest (N=68) populations in Western Poland during breeding seasons 2012-14. Level of background noise was obtained after each recording. We analyzed repertoire size, song rate, song duration and intersong intervals for each male.

Background noise differed markedly between sites. We found no evidence on impact of anthropogenic noise on the studied song characteristics between urban and forest populations. While the most studies emphasize the impact of anthropogenic noise on birdsong, we observe an increase in number of studies indicating that birds do not adjust song parameters to noisy conditions [6, 7]. Moreover, birds can respond differently to various types of natural and anthropogenic noise [8] which makes it difficult to assess the true impact of it on their acoustic communication.

  1. Cartwright L.A., Taylor D.R., Wilson D.R. and Chow-Fraser P. 2014. Urban noise affects song structure and daily patterns of song production in red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). Urban Ecosystems 17:561-572.
  2. Catchpole C.K., Slater P.J.B. 2008. Bird song: biological themes and variations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Price J.J. 2013. Why is birdsong so repetitive? Signal detection and the evolution of avian singing modes. Behaviour 150:1–19.
  4. Montague M.J., Danek-Gontard M. and Kunc H.P. 2012. Phenotypic plasticity affects the response of a sexually selected trait to anthropogenic noise. Behavioral Ecology 24:342-348.
  5. Ríos-Chelén A. A., Quirós-Guerrero E., Gil D. and Garcia C. M. 2013. Dealing with urban noise: vermilion flycatchers sing longer songs in noisier territories. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 67:145–152.
  6. Yang X.J. and Slabbekoorn H. 2014. Timing vocal behavior: Lack of temporal overlap avoidance to fluctuating noise levels in singing eurasian wrens. Behavioural Processes 108:131-137.
  7. Gough D.C., Mennill D.J. and Nol E. 2014. Singing seaside: Pacific Wrens (Troglodytes pacificus) change their songs in the presence of natural and anthropogenic noise. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 126:269-278.
  8. Lenske A.K. and La V.T. 2014. White-throated sparrows alter songs differentially in response to chorusing anuras and other background noise. Behavioural Processes 105:28-35.