Seasonal changes in testosterone, neural attributes of song control nuclei, and song structure in wild songbirds.

TitleSeasonal changes in testosterone, neural attributes of song control nuclei, and song structure in wild songbirds.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Volume17
Issue15
Pagination6001-10
Date Published1997
ISSN0270-6474
Abstract

Seasonal changes in the neural attributes of brain nuclei that control song in songbirds are among the most pronounced examples of naturally occurring plasticity in the adult brain of any vertebrate. The behavioral correlates of this seasonal neural plasticity have not been well characterized, particularly in songbird species that lack adult song learning. To address this question, we investigated the relationship between seasonal changes in gonadal steroids, song nuclei, and song behavior in adult male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia). At four times of the year, we measured plasma concentrations of testosterone, neural attributes of song nuclei, and several aspects of song structure in wild song sparrows of a nonmigratory population. We found seasonal changes in the song nuclei that were temporally correlated with changes in testosterone concentrations and with changes in song stereotypy. Male song sparrows sang songs that were more variable in structure in the fall, when testosterone concentrations were low and song nuclei were small, than in the spring, when testosterone concentrations were higher and song nuclei were larger. Despite seasonal changes in the song nuclei, the song sparrows continued to sing the same number of different song types, indicating that changes in the song nuclei were not correlated with changes in song repertoire size. These results suggest that song stereotypy, but not repertoire size, is a potential behavioral correlate of seasonal plasticity in the avian song control system.

URLhttp://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=9221796
Short TitleJ Neurosci
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