Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Immediate spectral flexibility in singing chiffchaffs during experimental exposure to highway noise

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Machteld Nicolette Verzijden, The Institute of Biology Leiden, Gorlaeus Laboratoria, Leiden University, Denmark
  • E. A. P. Ripmeester, Unknown
  • V. R. Ohms, Unknown
  • P. Snelderwaard, Unknown
  • H. Slabbekoorn, The Institute of Biology Leiden, Gorlaeus Laboratoria, Leiden University, Netherlands
Sound plays an important role in the life of many animals, including many bird species. Typically, male birds sing to defend a territory and to attract mates. Ambient noise may negatively affect the signal efficiency of their songs, which may be critical to reproductive success. Consequently, anthropogenic noise may be detrimental to individual birds and to populations in cities and along highways. Several bird species that are still common in urban areas have been shown to sing at higher frequency at locations where there is more low-frequency traffic noise. Here we show that chiffchaffs along noisy highways also sing with a higher minimum frequency than chiffchaffs nearby at a quiet riverside. Furthermore, through experimental exposure to highway noise we show that these birds are capable of making such adjustments over a very short time scale. The first 10 songs sung during the noise exposure revealed an immediate shift to higher frequencies, with a return to pre-exposure levels in recordings without noise the following day. In a transmission re-recording experiment we tested the impact of a potential measurement artifact by recording playback of the same songs repeatedly under different controlled noise conditions. We found an upward shift in the minimum frequency measurement associated with more noisy recordings of the same song, but this artifact was not of a scale that it could explain the noise-dependent spectral shifts in chiffchaffs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Pages (from-to)2575-2581
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 81891210