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Samuel Hill

Doctor of Philosophy, (Conservation Biology)
Study Completed: 2018
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Influences of environmental and biological factors on song complexity in songbirds

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

In songbirds, complex songs may be used to attract mates and defend territories. Mr Hill examined songbird variation in song complexity to provide important insights into the evolution of socially selected vocal characteristics. Hypotheses examining songbird' song complexity variation and a series of biological and environmental factors were tested. A songbird with high song complexity and extra-pair paternity (tui) was selected as the main research model. Broadcast songs were found to have higher complexity than interactive songs, and a positive association between extra-pair paternity and within-song complexity was found across multiple species. Furthermore, songs at dawn were more complex than at dusk, more complex in complex habitats, and more complex songs stimulated additional aggressive male responses. These responses suggest that complex songs in vocally complex songbirds may have evolved under sexual, territorial and environmental pressures. Mr Hill's findings advance our understanding of song complexity evolution in songbirds.

Associate Professor Weihong Ji
Professor Dianne Brunton
Dr Michael Anderson