Evol Ecol Res 8: 75-90 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Avian song complexity is associated with high field metabolic rate

László Zsolt Garamszegi,1* Juan Moreno2 and Anders Pape Møller3

1Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium,  2Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-CSIC, Madrid, Spain and  3Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Address all correspondence to L.Z. Garamszegi, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium.
e-mail: laszlo.garamszegi@ua.ac.be


Question: Is the production of bird song costly? Analyses of oxygen consumption during singing provided conflicting results.

Data studied: Data on 28 passerine species with quantitative information on song complexity and field metabolic rate, which reflects energy requirements of wild birds. The phylogenetic relationship data came from molecular sources.

Search method: Generalized least squares models to control for phylogenetic associations. First, we adjusted field metabolic rate to body size, and calculated the phylogenetic correlation between relative field metabolic rate and measures of song complexity. Second, we compared song complexity of birds inhabiting arid and mesic environments.

Conclusion: A measure of short-term song complexity, relative syllable repertoire size, is positively and significantly related to relative field metabolic rate. Species from arid habitats have less complex songs than species from mesic habitats.

Keywords: bird song, cost, energetics, field metabolic rate, repertoire size, song complexity.

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