Data from: Flight calls signal group and individual identity but not kinship in a cooperatively breeding bird
Keen, Sara C.; Meliza, C. Daniel; Rubenstein, Dustin R. (2013), Data from: Flight calls signal group and individual identity but not kinship in a cooperatively breeding bird, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p1n88
In many complex societies, intricate communication and recognition systems may evolve to help support both direct and indirect benefits of group membership. In cooperatively breeding species where groups typically comprise relatives, both learned and innate vocal signals may serve as reliable cues for kin recognition. Here, we investigated vocal communication in the plural cooperatively breeding superb starling, Lamprotornis superbus, where flight calls—short, stereotyped vocalizations used when approaching conspecifics—may communicate kin relationships, group membership, and/or individual identity. We found that flight calls were most similar within individual repertoires but were also more similar within groups than within the larger population. Although starlings responded differently to playback of calls from their own versus other neighboring and distant social groups, call similarity was uncorrelated with genetic relatedness. Additionally, immigrant females showed similar patterns to birds born in the study population. Together, these results suggest that flight calls are learned signals that reflect social association but may also carry a signal of individuality. Flight calls, therefore, provide a reliable recognition mechanism for groups and may also be used to recognize individuals. In complex societies comprising related and unrelated individuals, signaling individuality and group association, rather than kinship, may be a route to cooperation.