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The imitation dilemma: can parrots maintain their vocal individuality when imitating conspecifics?

ABSTRACT

Here we present a study investigating the effect of vocal modification during interactions, including vocal imitation, on the individual distinctiveness and sex-specific differences of contact calls from peach-fronted conures (Eupsittula aurea). In order to determine if vocal individual- and sex distinctiveness persists in contact calls that are modified to that of another individual, we compared nine acoustic parameters from spontaneous (baseline) contact calls and contact calls emitted as response to a playback stimulus. Although modified, all acoustic parameters remained individually distinctive when the focal individuals interacted with the playback stimulus. These results provide a strong basis for discriminating between calls from different individuals across several social contexts, which could play an important role in mediating selective associations between individual peach-fronted conures during fission and fusion events.

REFERENCE

Thomsen, H. M., Balsby, T. J. S. & Dabelsteen, T. 2019. The imitation dilemma: can parrots maintain their vocal individuality when imitating conspecifics? Behaviour. 156. 787-814.

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