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Negative impact of urban noise on sexual receptivity and clutch size in female domestic canaries

Abstract : In oscines, male song stimulates female reproduction and females are known to adjust both their sexual preferences and their maternal investment according to song quality. Female domestic canaries are especially responsive to wide frequency bandwidth (4 kHz) male songs emitted with a high-repetition syllable rate and low minimal frequencies (1 kHz). We previously showed that low-frequency urban noise decreases female sexual responsiveness for these low-frequency songs (1–5 kHz) through auditory masking. Based on the differential allocation hypothesis, we predicted that urban noise exposure will equally affect female maternal investment. Using a crossover design, we broadcast low-frequency songs to females either in an overlapping noise condition or in an alternating noise condition. Females decreased both their sexual responsiveness and their clutch size in the overlapping noise treatment relative to the alternative noise treatment. No differences were found concerning egg size or egg composition (yolk and albumen mass, testosterone concentration). Due to our experimental design, we can exclude a general impact of noisy conditions and thereby provide evidence for a detrimental effect through masking on avian courtship and reproductive output. These results suggest that noisy conditions may also affect avian communication in outdoor conditions, which may partly explain field reports on noise-dependent breeding success and reduced breeding densities at noisy sites.
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Guillaume Huet Des Aunay, Marco Grenna, Hans Slabbekoorn, Pierre Nicolas, Laurent Nagle, et al.. Negative impact of urban noise on sexual receptivity and clutch size in female domestic canaries. Ethology, 2017, 123 (6-7), pp.843-853. ⟨10.1111/eth.12659⟩. ⟨hal-01604274⟩



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