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Maternal presence influences vocal development in the Japanese quail ( Coturnix c. japonica )

Abstract : Social influences on vocal development of young birds have been widely studied in oscine songbirds who learn to sing by vocal imitation of conspecifics, mainly male adults. In contrast, vocal development of non-vocal learners such as Galliformes is considered as being under strong genetic influence and independent of the social environment. In this study, we investigated the role of the mother on the vocal development of young Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica). We compared the vocal development of mothered and non-mothered chicks during the first 21 days of life. We analysed the structural changes of two vocalisations: a) the rally call, emitted during long-distance communication and in stressful situations, b) the contact call, emitted during short-distance communication when chicks are in visual and/or auditory contact with congeners. We showed that temporal and spectral structures of the two types of calls changed during development and differed between mothered and nonmothered chicks. These results demonstrate that maternal presence influences the vocal development of the young in the Japanese quail. Even if the adaptive value of such changes was not assessed, these results highlight that plasticity of vocalisations in species considered as non-vocal learners has been underestimated.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 19, 2020 - 2:42:13 PM
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Lucie Desmedt, Isabelle George, Aïcha Mohamed Benkada, Maxime Hervé, Thierry Aubin, et al.. Maternal presence influences vocal development in the Japanese quail ( Coturnix c. japonica ). Ethology, Wiley, 2020, 126 (5), pp.553-562. ⟨10.1111/eth.13007⟩. ⟨hal-02474536⟩

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