Article (Scientific journals)
Sex differences in song syntax and syllable diversity in testosterone-induced songs of adult male and female canaries.
Dos Santos, Ednei B; Ball, Gregory F; Logue, David M et al.
2023In Biology of Sex Differences, 14 (1), p. 49
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Keywords :
Network analysis; Sex differences; Song diversity; Syllable sequences; Testosterone; Animals; Female; Male; Sex Characteristics; Vocalization, Animal; Learning; Testosterone/pharmacology; Canaries; Gender Studies; Endocrinology
Abstract :
[en] [en] BACKGROUND: Behavioral sex differences are widespread in the animal world. These differences can be qualitative (i.e., behavior present in one sex but not the other, a true sex dimorphism) or quantitative (behavior is present at a higher rate or quality in one sex compared to the other). Singing in oscine songbirds is associated with both types of differences. In canaries, female rarely sing spontaneously but they can be induced to do so by treatments with steroids. Song in these females is, however, not fully masculinized and exhibits relatively subtle differences in quality as compared with male song. We analyzed here sex differences in syllable content and syllable use between singing male and female canaries. METHODS: Songs were recorded from three groups of castrated male and three groups of photoregressed female canaries that had received Silastic™ implants filled with testosterone (T), with T plus estradiol (E2), or left empty (control). After 6 weeks of hormone treatment, 30 songs were recorded from each of the 47 subjects. Songs were segmented and each syllable was annotated. Various metrics of syllable diversity were extracted and network analysis was employed to characterize syllable sequences. RESULTS: Male and female songs were characterized by marked sex differences related to syllable use. Compared to females, males had a larger syllable-type repertoire and their songs contained more syllable types. Network analysis of syllable sequences showed that males follow more fixed patterns of syllable transitions than females. Both sexes, however, produced song of the same duration containing the same number of syllables produced at similar rates (numbers per second). CONCLUSIONS: Under the influence of T, canaries of both sexes are able to produce generally similar vocalizations that nevertheless differ in specific ways. The development of song during ontogeny appears to be a very sophisticated process that is presumably based on genetic and endocrine mechanisms but also on specific learning processes. These data highlight the importance of detailed behavioral analyses to identify the many dimensions of a behavior that can differ between males and females.
[en] Male canaries normally sing complex songs at high rate while females only rarely sing very simple songs. Testosterone induces active singing in both male and female canaries, but female song is still not fully masculinized by these treatments even if song duration does not differ between the sexes. We analyzed the syllable repertoire and the sequence of use for different syllables in canaries of both sexes treated with testosterone or testosterone supplemented with estradiol. Compared to females, males had a larger syllable-type repertoire and their songs contained more syllable types. Syllable transitions were also more fixed in males. Sex differences in adult singing of canaries are thus a complex mixture of differences that result from the different endocrine condition of males and females (and are thus partially reversed by administration of exogenous testosterone) and of more stable differences that presumably develop during the ontogenetic process under the influence of endocrine and genetic differences and of differential learning processes. Canary song thus represents an outstanding model system to analyze the interaction between nature and nurture in the acquisition of a sophisticated learned behavior as well as the mechanisms controlling sex differences in vocal learning and production.
Research center :
GIGA Neurosciences-Neuroendocrinology - ULiège
Disciplines :
Neurosciences & behavior
Author, co-author :
Dos Santos, Ednei B;  Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, GIGA Neurosciences, University of Liege, 15 Avenue Hippocrate (Bat. B36), Sart Tilman, 4000, Liège 1, Belgium
Ball, Gregory F;  Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
Logue, David M;  Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada
Cornil, Charlotte  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences biomédicales et précliniques
Balthazart, Jacques  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences biomédicales et précliniques
Language :
Title :
Sex differences in song syntax and syllable diversity in testosterone-induced songs of adult male and female canaries.
Publication date :
01 August 2023
Journal title :
Biology of Sex Differences
Publisher :
BioMed Central Ltd, England
Volume :
Issue :
Pages :
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
Funders :
NINDS - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [US-MD]
F.R.S.-FNRS - Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique [BE]
Funding text :
This work was supported by a Grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant RO1NS104008 (to G.F.B., J.B., and C.A.C.). C.A.C. is F.R.S.-FNRS Research Director.
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