Vocal communication and individuality of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) : description, quantification, and applications for management

Sung, Ha-Cheol (1999) Vocal communication and individuality of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) : description, quantification, and applications for management. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Vocalizations of Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) were studied in Prince Edward Island National Park during the breeding seasons of 1998 and 1999, and in Cheeseman Provincial Park in Newfoundland in May 1999 (early breeding season). Ten distinct call types of adults and three types of chicks were identified. Behavioural contexts of call-use are described and interpreted. -- The size of the vocal repertoire of the Piping Plover was similar with that of other Charadrius species. Five call types appeared to function as alarm signals, which thus occupied a major functional category of communication in this species. Vocal signals and functional characteristics in this and other Charadrius species show structural properties consistent with adaptation to open-country environments: low frequency, frequency-modulated tones, and redundancy via signal repetition. Brief, short one- or two-note calls were extensively used as a contact call between mates or from parent to chicks over short distances. Alarm calls were characterized by locatable properties including increasing and decreasing frequency. Piping Plovers emitted 'chatter' and 'whistle' calls in relationship to high- and low-level alarm, respectively. All call types except one were uttered by both male and female. The exception (call type I) was used predominantly by newly arrived males in aerial displays, and may serve for attracting females, defending territory, and stimulating mating. -- Sexual and individual variation were investigated in four often call types of adults. Classification trees, a statistical technique to partition calls into homogeneous sets, were constructed for identifying individuals. -- Visual assessment of calls was applied only to call type I of males; nine males differed greatly from one another and their calls were stable between two sample periods. Results of statistical analysis on call type I also revealed significant differences among males, and some significant differences between periods. Quantitative analysis of call types VI and VIII showed significant differences among individuals and between sexes, and differed on some variables between two periods. However, classification tree of male constructed with call type I and combined call types VI and VIII for male and call types VI and VIII for female identified individuals with very little misclassification rate. One male banded in 1998 and recorded in 1998 and 1999 was successfully identified using one of the trees. Possible reasons for variation within individuals and usefulness of the technique are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/740
Item ID: 740
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 86-96
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador; Canada--Prince Edward Island
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Piping plover--Vocalization--Prince Edward Island; Piping plover--Vocalization--Newfoundland and Labrador

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