+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Do Zebra Finch Parents Fail to Recognise Their Own Offspring?

      1 , * , 1 , 2 , 3 , 1

      PLoS ONE

      Public Library of Science

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          Individual recognition systems require the sender to be individually distinctive and the receiver to be able to perceive differences between individuals and react accordingly. Many studies have demonstrated that acoustic signals of almost any species contain individualized information. However, fewer studies have tested experimentally if those signals are used for individual recognition by potential receivers. While laboratory studies using zebra finches have shown that fledglings recognize their parents by their “distance call”, mutual recognition using the same call type has not been demonstrated yet. In a laboratory study with zebra finches, we first quantified between-individual acoustic variation in distance calls of fledglings. In a second step, we tested recognition of fledgling calls by parents using playback experiments. With a discriminant function analysis, we show that individuals are highly distinctive and most measured parameters show very high potential to encode for individuality. The response pattern of zebra finch parents shows that they do react to calls of fledglings, however they do not distinguish between own and unfamiliar offspring, despite individual distinctiveness. This finding is interesting in light of the observation of a high percentage of misdirected feedings in our communal breeding aviaries. Our results demonstrate the importance of adopting a receiver's perspective and suggest that variation in fledgling contact calls might not be used in individual recognition of offspring.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 59

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: not found
          • Article: not found

          R: a language and environment for statistic computing

            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            Individual recognition: it is good to be different.

            Individual recognition (IR) behavior has been widely studied, uncovering spectacular recognition abilities across a range of taxa and modalities. Most studies of IR focus on the recognizer (receiver). These studies typically explore whether a species is capable of IR, the cues that are used for recognition and the specializations that receivers use to facilitate recognition. However, relatively little research has explored the other half of the communication equation: the individual being recognized (signaler). Provided there is a benefit to being accurately identified, signalers are expected to actively broadcast their identity with distinctive cues. Considering the prevalence of IR, there are probably widespread benefits associated with distinctiveness. As a result, selection for traits that reveal individual identity might represent an important and underappreciated selective force contributing to the evolution and maintenance of genetic polymorphisms.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Finding a parent in a king penguin colony: the acoustic system of individual recognition.

              To be fed, a king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus, chick must identify the call of its parents, in the continuous background noise of the colony. To study this recognition process, we played back to the chicks parental calls with acoustic parameters modified in the temporal and frequency domains. The parental call is composed of syllables (complex sounds with harmonic series) separated by pronounced amplitude declines. Our experiments with modified signals indicate that the chick's frequency analysis of the call is not tuned towards precise peak energy values, the signal being recognized even when the carrier frequency was shifted 100 Hz down or 75 Hz up. To recognize the adult, chicks used frequency rather than amplitude modulation, in particular the frequency modulation shape of the syllable. This structure is repeated through the different syllables of the call giving a distinct vocal signature. Our experiments also show that the receiver needs to perceive only a small part of the signal: the first half of the syllable (0.23 s) and the first three harmonics were sufficient to elicit recognition. The small amount of information necessary to understand the message, the high redundancy in the time and frequency domains and the almost infinite possibilities of coding provided by the frequency modulation signature permit the chick to recognize the adult, without the help of a nest site. For these reasons, the code used in the call of the king penguin can be regarded as a functional code, increasing the possibility of individual recognition in an acoustically constraining environment. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                13 April 2011
                : 6
                : 4
                [1 ]Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany
                [2 ]Field Station Valais, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Salgesch, Switzerland
                [3 ]IEE-Conservation Biology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
                University of Jyväskylä, Finland
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: HR AJ WF. Performed the experiments: HR AJ. Analyzed the data: HR. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: HR AJ WF. Wrote the paper: HR AJ WF.

                Reers et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 7
                Research Article
                Behavioral Ecology
                Evolutionary Ecology
                Evolutionary Biology
                Animal Behavior
                Behavioral Ecology
                Evolutionary Ecology
                Model Organisms
                Animal Models
                Signal Processing
                Social and Behavioral Sciences



                Comment on this article