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Strategies that facilitate or counter eavesdropping on vocal interactions in songbirds

Author(s): Dabelsteen Torben

Journal: Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências
ISSN 0001-3765

Volume: 76;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 274;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: communication networks | eavesdropping strategies | vocal interactions

Most territorial songbirds live in communication networks where eavesdropping on vocal interactions may constitute an important option for gathering information regarding the relative dominance, condition and quality of individuals being eavesdropped upon. The relatively low costs and risks of eavesdropping, together with the obvious advantages of gaining such comparative information about other individuals, predict eavesdropping to be a widespread phenomenon even though it is not necessarily advantageous for the participants to be eavesdropped upon. Special eavesdropper strategies that facilitate eavesdropping (how best to eavesdrop) may therefore have evolved together with strategies for interacting that either co-facilitate (public signaling) or counter eavesdropping directly (private signaling) or indirectly by preventing any subsequent negative consequences of being eavesdropped upon (anonymity). This paper reviews the predictions for the strategies and also gives examples supporting their use by territorial songbirds in connection with vocal interactions.
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