The functional role and female perception of male song in Zebra Finches

Mark E. Hauber, Dana L.M. Campbell, Sarah M.N. Woolley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The song of male Zebra Finches has been the focus of decades of behavioural, developmental, neurobiological and, increasingly, genomic research. Zann was the first to summarise the immense and integrative research effort in a landmark synthesis of field and laboratory studies of Zebra Finches, which paralleled his own championing work on the sociality and vocal behaviour of estrildid finches in the wild and in captivity. The study of the production and perception of Zebra Finch song has driven theoretical, empirical and technological advances in behavioural ecology, endocrinology and neuroethology, and led to a greater understanding of the evolution of animal communication systems in general. A survey of the literature shows that there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the responses of non-singing females to male sexual displays, including song. We focus on recent insights into the features and functions of male song that shape female choice, regarding both behavioural and neurobiological measures of selectivity. This review underscores the need for continued research into the biological mechanisms underlying the perception of male song by female Zebra Finches and confirms this system as a valuable and productive model for research on animal communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bengalese Finch
  • Lonchura striata vars. domestica
  • Taeniopygia guttata
  • female choice
  • genome
  • neuroethology
  • sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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