An investigation of sex differences in acoustic features of the chick-a-dee call of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)

  • Author / Creator
    Campbell, Kimberley Ann
  • The chick-a-dee call of the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is composed of four main note types (A, B, C, and D) that occur in a fixed order. Sex differences have been identified in a number of black-capped chickadee vocalizations (including tseet calls and fee-bee songs) and in the chick-a-dee calls of other chickadee species (specifically, Carolina chickadees [P. carolinensis]). In the current study, I investigated twelve acoustic features in black-capped chickadee chick-a-dee calls including frequency, duration, and amplitude measurements. Using permuted discriminant function analyses, these features were examined to determine which feature, or combination of features, could be used to identify the sex of the caller. Only one note type (A notes) allowed for the discrimination of male and female calls at levels approaching significance. In particular, the start frequency of A notes provided the best discrimination. This finding is consistent with previous research on Carolina chickadee chick-a-dee calls that found that the starting frequency differed between male- and female-produced A notes (Freeberg et al. 2003). Future research will investigate the behavioural response of black-capped chickadees as they discriminate male and female chick-a-dee calls as well as acoustically manipulated calls. The results of this and future projects will add to our knowledge of the proximate mechanisms underlying vocal communication of black-capped chickadees in particular and, more generally, will add to our knowledge of vocal communication in animals that use learned vocalizations, including humans.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Spetch, Marcia (Psychology)
    • Evenden, Maya (Biological Sciences)
    • Hurd, Pete (Psychology)