Behaviour 2019
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Them's Fightin' Words: Singing Behaviour Before, During, & After Natural Fights in a Tropical Songbird
Peter C. Mower1, Samantha W. Krause1, David M. Logue1,2. 1University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada; 2University of Puerto Rico, MayagŁez, , Puerto Rico

Agonistic signals evolved to mitigate the cost of conflict over resources. Bird song has long been thought to function as an agonistic signal in songbirds, but remarkably few studies link singing behaviour to agonism in unmanipulated, natural systems. Adelaide’s warblers (Setophaga adelaidae) are an ideal study system in which to observe agonistic signaling because neighbours frequently engage in conspicuous territorial skirmishes. We analyzed focal recordings of 26 individually-marked males and characterized singing behavior before, during, and after fights (n = 20,764 songs, 314 fights). Song latency, song type rarity, and song type switch rate all covaried with time-relative-to-fight. The patterns of covariance differ among signal types, suggesting that their functions also differ. This study provides novel characterizations of singing behavior relative to fight times and sets the stage for experiments to further the agonistic signaling functions of bird song.