Conspecific-only experience during development reduces the strength of heterospecific song discrimination in Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata): A test of the optimal acceptance threshold hypothesis

Dana L.M. Campbell, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Conspecifics during development provide the most reliable sensory cues for species recognition in parental bird species. The Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is a sexually dimorphic model species used for investigations of the behavioural cues and neurobiological substrates of species recognition. Regarding acoustic conspecific cues, theory predicts that exposure to both con- and heterospecific vocalisations and other environmental sounds results in more accurate auditory species discrimination, because diverse vocal cues during development shift optimal conspecific acceptance thresholds to be more restrictive to yield fewer acceptance errors. We tested the behavioural preferences of female and male Zebra Finches raised in an outdoor environment (Control) and female and male Zebra Finches reared in an indoor colony with exposure to Zebra Finches only (Restricted), to playbacks of songs of Zebra Finches, Zebra Finches cross-fostered by Bengalese Finches (Lonchura striata var. domestica), and Bengalese Finches. Several behavioural measures revealed minimal sexual dimorphism in discrimination but showed that Control subjects preferred conspecifics' songs over either the songs of cross-fostered Zebra Finches or Bengalese Finches. Restricted Zebra Finches in contrast did not discriminate behaviourally between the three song types. These results support the concept of a shift in the species acceptance threshold in the restricted treatment resulting in more acceptance errors. We discuss future work to test the role of exposure to diverse vocal cues of both con- and heterospecifics in the ontogeny of song perception in this important laboratory model species for social recognition research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Volume151
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Optimal acceptance threshold
  • Species recognition
  • Zebra Finches

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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