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A small vocal repertoire during the breeding season expresses complex behavioral motivations and individual signature in the Common Coot

Citation

Fu, Changjian; Xing, Xiaoying (2021), A small vocal repertoire during the breeding season expresses complex behavioral motivations and individual signature in the Common Coot, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3xsj3txgz

Abstract

Background: Although acoustic communication plays an essential role in the social interactions of Rallidae, our knowledge of how Rallidae encode diverse types of information using simple vocalizations is limited. We recorded and examined the vocalizations of a Common Coot (Fulica atra) population during the breeding season to test the hypotheses that 1) different call types can be emitted under different behavioral contexts, and 2) variation in the vocal structure of a single call type may be influenced both by behavioral motivations and individual signature. We measured a total of 61 recordings of 30 adults while noting the behavioral activities in which individuals were engaged. We compared several acoustic parameters of the same call type emitted under different behavioral activities to determine how frequency and temporal parameters changed depending on behavioral motivations and individual differences.

Results: We found that adult Common Coots had a small vocal repertoire, including 4 types of call, composed of a single syllable that was used during 9 types of behaviors. The 4 calls significantly differed in both frequency and temporal parameters and can be clearly distinguished by discriminant function analysis. Minimum frequency of fundamental frequency (F0min) and duration of syllable (T) contributed the most to acoustic divergence between calls. Call a was the most commonly used (in 8 of the 9 behaviors detected), and maximum frequency of fundamental frequency (F0max) and interval of syllables (TI) contributed the most to variation in call a. Duration of syllable (T) in a single call a can vary with different behavioral motivations after individual vocal signature being controlled.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that several call types of a small repertoire, and a single call with function-related changes in the temporal parameter in Common Coots could potentially indicate various behavioral motivations and individual signature. This study advances our knowledge of how Rallidae use “simple” vocal systems to express diverse motivations and provides new models for future studies on the role of vocalization in avian communication and behavior.

Usage Notes

The datasets were first published in the Figshare repository [https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.15085758.v1].

Funding

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Award: 2572019BE05

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31501867

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 30770309