Duetting behavior varies with sex, season, and singing role in a tropical oriole (Icterus icterus)

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Odom, Karan J.
Logue, David M.
Studds, Colin E.
Monroe, Michelle K.
Campbell, Susanna K.
Omland, Kevin E.
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Oxford University Press
Females and males of many animals combine their vocalizations into coordinated acoustic duets. Duets can mediate both cooperation and conflict between partners, and are common in tropical, sedentary species that may use duets for multiple functions year-round. To elucidate the full range of duet functions, we need to study the individual-level behaviors that generate duets throughout the year. We evaluated multiple functions of duetting behavior in female and male Venezuelan troupials (Icterus icterus) during the breeding and nonbreeding seasons, including territory defense, maintaining contact with a mate, and paternity guarding. In both sexes during both seasons, song initiation rates were predicted by conspecific solo and duet rates. However, troupials were more likely to answer their mate to form duets after conspecific duets than after conspecific solos, supporting a territory defense function of duets. Troupials that answered their mate to form duets were also more likely to move toward their mate (than duet initiators and soloists), suggesting that duet participation also functions to maintain contact. During the breeding season, males were particularly likely to fly toward their mate after answering to form a duet. This finding may indicate that males answer to guard paternity, although other predictions of paternity guarding were not supported. Examining individual-level behaviors during both the breeding and nonbreeding season revealed multiple functions of troupial duets. Our results are consistent with social selection acting on females and males to maintain contact and territories year-round, and possibly sexual selection on males for functions tied to the breeding season.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Behavioral Ecology following peer review.
Bird , Contact maintenance , Duet function , Paternity guard , Song , Territory defense , Tropical oriole
Odom, K. J., Logue, D. M., Studds, C. E., Monroe, M. K., Campbell, S. K., & Omland, K. E. (2017). Duetting behavior varies with sex, season, and singing role in a tropical role (Icterus icterus). Behavioral ecology, 28(5), 1256-1265. doi:10.1093/beheco/arx087