The Allometry of Sound Frequency Bandwidth in Songbirds

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Theory predicts that allometric constraints on sound production should be stronger for the lower frequencies of vocalizations than for the higher frequencies, which could originate from an allometry for sound frequency bandwidth. Using song recordings of approximately 1,000 passerine species (from 175% passerine gen-era), we show a significantly steeper allometry for the lower song frequencies than for the higher song frequencies, resulting in a positive allometry of frequency bandwidth: larger species can use wider bandwidths than smaller species. The bandwidth allometry exists in songbirds (oscines) but not in nonoscine passerines, indicating that it emerges from a combination of constraints to sound frequency production or transmission and the evolved behavior of oscines: unlike the narrow bandwidths of most nonoscine songs, the learned songs of oscines often use wide bandwidths that can be limited by both lower and upper constraints to sound frequency. This bandwidth allometry has implications for several research topics in acoustic communication.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)607-614
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Acoustic communication, Allometry, Birdsong, Sound frequency bandwidth

ID: 260185961