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Throughout the year, African pied starlings live in flocks of 15—25 individuals. Stable monogamous pairs re-use the same nest sites in successive breeding seasons September—January. Several nests can be found close to each other in burrows or holes. During the breeding season, up to seven helpers can feed the young with the parents, and helpers may feed young at three different nests during a single breeding season Craig, During the non-breeding season, pied starling groups may be nomadic and join other groups at communal roost sites Craig and Feare, This study was conducted in the Eastern Cape region in South Africa where the four species occur, often at the same sites.

Songs have been recorded since , mainly during the breeding season. Red-winged starling vocalizations were recorded primarily on Rhodes University campus in Grahamstown and in the vicinity — Pale-winged starling vocalizations were recorded at one site: Graaff-Reinet Pied starling vocalizations were recorded at three sites: Table Farm, Queenstown and Graaff-Reinet to and Most recordings were obtained in the morning 6—10 a. According to Fry et al.

Vocalizations were analyzed using homemade software for song analyses ANA, Richard, The amount of song recorded is summarized in Table 3.

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Table 3. Here we focused our analyses on the temporal aspects of songs. Indeed, most studies on interspecific comparisons of vocalizations have focused on quantitative aspects, such as the repertoire size Catchpole, ; Kroodsma, ; MacComb and Semple, Whereas temporal aspects of vocal signals or vocal interactions have so far been little studied, they nonetheless could provide a wealth of information regarding the influence of social life on the evolution of vocal communication. We predicted that social life, in terms of the number of social partners or distance between partners for example, would affect the temporal structure of song.

Two categories of songs could be distinguished: discontinuous songs , corresponding to unitary notes or short motifs a fixed combination of acoustic elements produced at discrete intervals, and continuous songs in which long sequences are produced, with less than 0. For each species, we measured: 1- sequence duration, 2- intervals between two successive sequences or two successive discontinuous motifs, 3- the motif duration, 4- the number of motifs per sequence, 5- intervals between two successive motifs within a sequence.

The four species showed clear differences in the temporal organization of their song. Considering the proportion of continuous and discontinuous songs, a gradient was observed from O. Interestingly, this gradient corresponded to the increase in the complexity of social life Figure 11 : the more the species showed a complex and especially family type of social organization in terms of number of congeners and nest proximity , the more their songs were produced in a continuous manner. Song sequence duration and sequence interval duration for the 4 species of African sturnids.

Song overlap was never observed in O. On the contrary, in L. Both alternating and overlapping song interactions are also regularly observed in O. Whistles of a male and a female O. Chorus of L. The data presented here on one animal model reveal the interest of focusing on one question here the temporal features of song that may or may not lead to alternating vocal interactions and examining the different facets of the question. To the question: do European starlings show turn-taking in their vocal exchanges between males?

It has been proposed that warbling could play some stimulating role on the physiology of the listeners but also on the emitters too as found in budgerigars by Brockway and Adret-Hausberger and Jenkins Warbling is often associated with excitation behaviors such as visual displays and the production of high pitched trills, especially in the breeding season Verheyen, Fundamentally, male starlings show movements of the head, typical of observation, during the silent interval between successive whistles and an erect posture while they are more in an oblique posture, with or without wing displays and a low reactivity while warbling.

Excitation may lead to more overlap. Interestingly, the comparative study of African starlings reflects these findings: the more communal the species, the more song overlap and choruses appear during close-range interactions, and the more continuous the song. The more territorial and long distant interactive a species is, the more alternation there is, hence the more discontinuous the song structures are. Some species like the European starling and the pale-winged starling show both song styles, reflecting the different contexts of interaction. According to Hauser , the timing of calling in macaques may be altered in such a way that it is used by individuals to manipulate or facilitate social relationships.

One may speculate that the need for mutual intelligibility and information seeking but also the need for giving and receiving attention, a potential mediator of social bonding Fedurek et al. Humans too may produce choirs that are perceived as a communal display rather than an interaction between individuals. In the Dogons, as mentioned earlier, observing rules in language coincides with law and order in the society Calame-Griaule, It is true too that spacing of the vocalizations requires calmness, control and attention toward the others instead of being self-centered.

For France et al. This is reminiscent of the gradient observed in species of the starling family Sturnidae.

Other communal breeders and group living animals such as the Australian magpies also favor choruses and overlap of songs e. This recalls some human conversations where the dominant individual disregards the other's turn. For Takahashi et al. Indeed the temporal features of animal vocal interactions in many ways parallel human communication. The use of rule systems for vocal communication is not limited to human beings. This review makes two additional points: turn-taking is one characteristic feature of human conversations but choruses might well be of interest if the social evolution of language and the intercultural aspects are to be considered; more integrative studies such as those described here and in progress for starlings are needed in order to tackle the question of the evolution of rule-governed communication in language.

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Adret-Hausberger, M. Social influences on the whistled songs of starlings. Temporal dynamics of dialects in the whistled songs of starlings.

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Ethology 71, — Song ontogenesis in starlings Sturnus vulgaris : are song and subsong continuous? Bird Behav. Individual life history and song repertoire changes in a colony of starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Ethology 84, — CrossRef Full Text. Complex organization of the warbling song in the European starling Sturnus vulgaris. Behaviour , — Albert, E. Rhetoric, logic and poetics in Burundi: culture patterning of speech and behavior. Au, W. Seasonal and diurnal trends of chorusing humpback whales wintering in waters off western Maui.

Baker, T. Vocal signals predict attack during aggressive interactions in black-capped chickadees. Bertin, A.

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Adult and peer influences on starling song development. Bertram, B. The vocal behaviour of the Indian Hill Mynah Gracula religiosa. Biben, M. Temporal and structural analysis of affiliative vocal exchanges in squirrel monkeys. Behaviour 98, — Bigot, E. Exuberant youth: the example of triumph ceremonies in Barnacle geese Branta leucopsis. Black, B. Links between communication patterns in mother-child, father-child, and child-peer interactions and children's social status. Child Dev. Bourhis, R. Ryan, and H.

Giles London: Edward Arnold , 34— Briefer, E. When to be a dear enemy: flexible acoustic relationships of neighbouring skylarks, Alauda arvensis. Brockway, B. Hinde Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , — Brown, E. Song sharing in a group-living songbird, the Australian magpie, Gymnorhina tibicen.

Sex specificity and individual specificity of vocal parts in communal chorus and duet songs. Snowdon and M.


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Hausberger Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 98— Google Scholar. Calame-Griaule, G. Ethnologie et Langage. La parole chez les Dogon. Paris: Galimard. Camacho-Schlenker, S. Song sharing and singing strategies in the winter wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Candiotti, A. Convergence and divergence in Diana monkey vocalisations. Carter, G. Antiphonal calling allows individual discrimination in white-winged vampire bats.

Catchpole, C. Sexual selection and the evolution of complex song among warblers of the genus Acrocephalus. Behaviour 74, — Variation in the song of the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus in relation to mate attraction and territorial defense. Bird Song: Biological Themes and Variations. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Chaiken, M. Song acquisition in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris : a comparison of the songs of live tutored, tape tutored, untutored, and wild caught males. Chen, H. C, Kaplan, G. Contact calls of common marmosets Callithrix jacchus : influence of age of caller on antiphonal calling and other vocal responses.

Chew, S. Quantal duration of auditory memories. Science , — Chow, C. Vocal turn taking in a non-human primates is learned during ontogeny. Clergeau, P. L'Oiseau Rev. Counsilman, J. Waking and roosting behaviour of the Indian myna. Emu 74, — Cousillas, H. Linking social and vocal brains: could social segregation prevent a proper development of a central auditory area in a female songbird? Social experience: a major factor in the development of a central auditory area. Naturwissenchaften 93, — Experience-dependent neuronal specialization and functional organization in the central auditory area of a songbird.

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The signal function of overlapping singing in male robins.

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The acoustic structure of chimpanzee pant-hooting facilitates chorusing. Feekes, F. Song mimesis within colonies of Cacicus c. A colonial password?

Bibliographic Information

Ficken, M. Vocal repertoire of the blackcapped chickadee. Auk 95, 34— Foote, J. R, Fitzsimmons, L. Male chickadees match neighbors interactively at dawn: support for the social dynamics hypothesis. France, E. The impact of status and audio conferencing technology on business meetings. Fry, H. The Birds of Africa , Vol. London: AcademicPress. Geberzahn, N. How a songbird with a continuous singing style modulates its song when territorially challenged.

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  5. Hammerschmidt, K. Dusk calling in barbary macaques Macaca sylvanus : demand for social shelter. Hausberger, M. The organization of whistle sequences in starlings. Hausberger Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , — Do females turn males on and off in barnacle goose social display? Ethology 54, — Oller and U. Song sharing reflects the social organization in a captive group of European starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Hauser, M. Human Origins , eds T. Nishida, F. McGrew, P. Marler, and M. Pickford Tokyo: Tokyo University Press , — At a second level, established through ostensive communication, common ground includes also general knowledge of enduring relevance.

    These two levels have been studied separately. We hypothesize that joint action exploits forms of ostension found at the second level, and that ostensive communication draws on forms of coordination found at the first level. Through our integrated study of the two levels we aim to redefine the relation between coordination, communication, and cultural transmission.

    Our common program will close gaps between research that has focused on the processes and representations that enable joint action Call, Knoblich and research that has addressed intentional communication and its role in cultural transmission Gergely, Sperber. It will integrate the study of a embodied cognitive mechanisms for interpersonal coordination, b shared intentions and shared task representations, c ostensive communication, d natural pedagogy, and e how all of the above provide the micro-mechanisms of cultural transmission.

    At a second level, established through ostensive communication, common ground includes also general knowledge of enduring relevance. These two levels have been studied separately. We hypothesize that joint action exploits forms of ostension found at the second level, and that ostensive communication draws on forms of coordination found at the first level.

    Through our integrated study of the two levels we aim to redefine the relation between coordination, communication, and cultural transmission. Our common program will close gaps between research that has focused on the processes and representations that enable joint action Call, Knoblich and research that has addressed intentional communication and its role in cultural transmission Gergely, Sperber.

    It will integrate the study of a embodied cognitive mechanisms for interpersonal coordination, b shared intentions and shared task representations, c ostensive communication, d natural pedagogy, and e how all of the above provide the micro-mechanisms of cultural transmission.