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Female birds 'jam' their mates' flirtatious songs
Date:3/12/2009

m their partners' songs are presumably intended to make the males less attractive, or to make it clear that they are "taken." He added that the results in antbirds may have broad implications for understanding how communal signals have developed over evolutionary time in many animals, and perhaps even in humans.

First, Tobias said, the findings reveal that group signals such as duets and choruses represent a subtle blend of cooperation and conflict. The balance between those two forces depends on the context. Their study also suggests that if there is some conflict in the system, then multiple singers can combine to produce rhythmic, precisely coordinated, and increasingly complex songs simply by avoiding overlap.

"Most evidence points to vocalizations in early humans having a function in both mate attraction and resource defense, so it seems plausible that 'signal jamming' and especially 'jamming avoidance' played a role in our evolutionary history. If so, our results may help to explain the first steps towards complex, coordinated group signals in humans, which themselves are the likely forerunners to modern music."


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Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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