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Cognitive Ecology II$
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Reuven Dukas and John M. Ratcliffe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226169354

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226169378.001.0001

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Consequences of Brain Development for Sexual Signaling in Songbirds

Consequences of Brain Development for Sexual Signaling in Songbirds

(p.71) 5 Consequences of Brain Development for Sexual Signaling in Songbirds
Cognitive Ecology II
William A. Searcy, Stephen Nowicki
University of Chicago Press

This chapter reviews the bird song learning by examining the recent nutritional stress hypothesis. It suggests that conditions during early development have long-term effects on features of the male song, which females can readily perceive, and on other aspects of male quality, which females cannot easily assess. It is therefore found that females rely on male song as a reliable indicator of overall male quality. Also, a variety of forms of stress has been shown to affect either adult song or the song system or both, including nutritional limitation, orticosterone treatment, and parasite infection. The authors observe that the one exception has been brood size manipulation, which had no effect on either song or the song system in zebra finches. Hence, further studies of the effects of early stress on adult social dominance, immunocompetence, and cognitive abilities would be particularly interesting.

Keywords:   nutritional stress, male song, male quality, stress, brood size, song system

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