Does song repertoire size in Common Blackbirds play a role in an intra-sexual context?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Bird song is thought to have a function in both inter- and intra-sexual contexts with song complexity serving as an honest signal of male quality. Theory predicts that males use repertoire sizes to estimate rivals’ fighting ability. Here we tested whether element repertoire size plays a role in an intra-sexual context in the Common Blackbird Turdus merula, a songbird with a large repertoire. In a territory intrusion playback experiment, we broadcast Common Blackbird song with different element repertoire sizes to territorial males. The test birds did not respond differently to the different repertoire sizes. This was also the case when we considered the test birds’ own repertoire sizes in the analysis. Thus, we found no evidence for the hypothesis that males use repertoire size for estimating rivals’ fighting force. However, this does not exclude the possibility that repertoire size plays a role in different intra-sexual contexts in Common Blackbirds. In the discussion, we address alternative scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)591-601
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 40304462