The effect of an indirect predator cue on veery (Catharus Fuscescens) dusk chorus

Date

2018-05

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Abstract

In passerines, song serves as a vital component of communication, either to solicit a mate or defend a territory. In the presence of a predator, however, vocal communication can be detrimental, making individuals more susceptible to the risk of predation. Singing at dusk, when light levels are diminished, can exacerbate this risk, particularly for a primarily diurnal species. As an adaptive means of assessing risk, organisms can acquire information regarding the surrounding environment, particularly risk, via heterospecific eavesdropping to make informed decisions. Here, I investigated whether a diurnal passerine, the Veery (Catharus fuscescens), eavesdroped on indirect predator cues, the seet alarm call of the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), at dusk. Using a playback design, three 30-second pulses of barred owl calls were broadcasted over the course of a 25-minute period surrounding sunset (i.e., when dusk chorus vocalizations are maximized), while Veery dusk chorusing behavior was simultaneously recorded. Using paired t-tests, I determined that Veeries did not modify their dusk chorusing behavior in the presence of indirect predatory cues.

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Keywords

Eavesdropping, Passerine, Indirect cue, Dusk chorus

Citation