More on the Cognitive Ecology of Song Communication and Song Learning in the Song Sparrow

Edited by Michael D. Beecher and John M. Burt

in Cognitive Ecology II

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226169354
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226169378 | DOI:
More on the Cognitive Ecology of Song Communication and Song Learning in the Song Sparrow

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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In later life This chapter presents an update on a long-term research program examining the rules that young song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) use to decide which songs to learn, retain, and later use, and the role that the social ecology of song sparrows has played in shaping these rules. The strategy of song learning in song sparrows and the mechanisms of song communication between neighboring adult males are shaped by cognitive factors at the proximate level and variables in the species' social ecology at the ultimate level. The chapter presents an argument around the fact that a cognitive ecology perspective captures the key features of song learning and song communication in this species, and will probably do so as well in other species of songbirds. The authors find that understanding the song-learning process may ultimately be the key to understanding why it is that song learning in one life stage parallels song communication stages.

Keywords: song sparrow; song learning; song communication; social ecology; cognitive ecology; songbirds

Chapter.  9251 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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