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UF study: When singing mice choose a mate, a skillful song gets the gal
Date:6/15/2011

s limits the speed with which it can repeat notes.

Pasch uses a textbook analogy: handclapping. The slower you clap, the louder each clap can be because you have time to pull your hands apart to generate power. As one claps faster, there is less time to generate power. Beyond a certain rate, one cannot clap both loudly and quickly.

The similarity to birds surprised Jeffrey Podos, a biologist specializing in vocal behavior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"Mice and birds sing using completely different vocal mechanisms, and so the similarity in song patterns is very much unexpected," he explained. "It will be interesting to try to identify similarities in vocal mechanics between birds and mice that could explain the convergent pattern."

In the second component of the study, Pasch and his team demonstrated that male sex hormones, also called androgens, affect how well mice can sing. By neutering the male mice, then giving synthetic hormones to some of them, the researchers showed that mice without hormones weren't able to perform as well as their counterparts.

The mice who didn't receive hormone replacement had slower trill rates, and their notes covered a smaller range of frequencies. The researchers suspect that androgens may act on the jaw musculature and diaphragm to influence the rate of mouth movement and force of respiration. The role of androgens in modulating song performance has not been previously studied, Pasch said.

In the third part of the study, Pasch and his team former UF researchers Andreas S. George and Steven M. Phelps, now at the University of Texas at Austin, and Polly Campbell, now at the University of Arizona showed that female mice preferred better singers. By taking a normal mouse song and manipulating it electronically to pack in more notes per second, the authors created a song they predicted would appeal to females more than the song at normal speed. They then isolated fe
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Contact: Bret Pasch
bpasch@ufl.edu
352-273-0142
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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