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Aggression and multi-modal signaling in noise in a common urban songbird

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posted on 2023-08-30, 20:05 authored by Çağla Önsal, Alper Yelimlieş, Çağlar Akçay
Anthropogenic noise may disrupt signals used to mediate aggressive interactions, leading to more physical aggression between opponents. One solution to this problem is to switch signaling effort to a less noisy modality (e.g., the visual modality). In the present study, we investigate aggressive behaviors and signaling in urban and rural male European robins (Erithacus rubecula) in response to simulated intrusions with or without experimental noise. First, we predicted that urban birds, living in noisier habitats, would be generally more aggressive than rural birds. We also predicted that during simulated intrusions with experimental noise, robins would increase their physical aggression and show a multi-modal shift, i.e., respond with more visual threat displays and sing fewer songs. Finally, we expected the multi-modal shift in response to noise to be stronger in urban birds compared to rural birds. The results showed that urban birds were more aggressive than rural robins, but an increase in aggression with experimental noise was seen only in the rural birds. Urban but not rural birds decreased their song rate in response to noise. Contrary to the multi-modal shift hypothesis, however, there was no evidence of a concurrent increase in visual signals. These results point to a complex role of immediate plasticity and longer-term processes in affecting communication during aggressive interactions under anthropogenic noise.



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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology




Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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Faculty of Science & Engineering

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