ABS 2022
What did you say? Testing the acoustic transmission properties of song in a near threatened oscine.        
Hans R. Gonzembach, Rindy C. Anderson. Florida Atlantic University, Davie, Florida, United States

Songbirds are among the few taxa that exhibit vocal learning. This phenomenon leads to variation in the accuracy with which juveniles learn to sing. Song variation can be the result of copy errors made when juveniles learn songs from adults. However, it’s unclear if abiotic factors contribute to song variation. In Bachman’s sparrows (Peucaea aestivalis), some song types are highly shared and sung by many males in the population, while others are rare and sung by few individuals. I conducted playback experiments to test the idea that song type learning is influenced by the transmission properties of individual song types, leading to differential learning rates of song types within a population. Transmission properties of rare song types, including envelope correlation (P = 0.037) and tail-to-signal ratio (P = 0.010) degraded over shorter distances compared to common song types. Excess attenuation of common song types was greater over distance compared to rare song types (P = 0.039). While studies have tested the transmission properties of animal vocalizations, fewer have asked how the transmission properties of song types influence the frequency with which those types are learned.