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Song as an indicator of male parental effort in the sedge warbler

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2000, 00:00 authored by Kate BuchananKate Buchanan, C K Catchpole
Repertoire size has been found to be a sexually selected trait in a number of bird species, although the advantages of mating with a male who possesses a complex song remain unclear. We studied the potential role of song as an indicator of male parental effort in the sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. The male provisioning rate was used as a measure of male parental effort and was found to increase with nestling age and brood size. When controlling for chick age, brood size and other variables, we found a highly significant positive correlation between a measure of song complexity (repertoire size) and male parental effort. Both male parental effort and repertoire size were found to be positively correlated with chick weight when controlling for chick age. We found no correlation between a measure of song output (amount of song flighting) or territory size and parental effort. Repertoire size is known to be the most important cue in female choice amongst sedge warblers and we discuss the possible reasons for this. We suggest that, in choosing a male with a large repertoire, a female obtains not only indirect benefits but also direct benefits in the form of increased parental effort.



Proceedings of the Royal Society B






321 - 326


The Royal Society Publishing


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2000, The Royal Society