School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Distinguished Lecture Seminar - The evolution of bird song - Marc Naguib - 03 Dec 2014

3 December 2014

Time: 3:00 - 4:00pm

Bancroft Road Lecture Theatre BR 3.02 (preceded at 2:45pm by tea and followed by a reception - both in the Informatics Hub) All welcome (especially students), no pre-booking required

The evolution of bird song
Marc Naguib - Behavioural Ecology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands


Communication requires signals and the design of these signals underlies various selection pressures. The information to be signalled has to be coded in signal patterns and signalling strategies and receivers must evolve mechanisms to extract this information and to respond appropriately. On the organismal level, bird song is among the most striking and best studied communication systems and as such has become a text book example that integrates different disciplines.

Bird song is characterized by its discrete patterns which can be composed to a comparatively simple song of a great tit, Parus major, or to the highly complex and melodious song of a nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos. Why is this so? Which rules underlie the patterning of bird song and which information is coded along these rules? How are different patterns used and for which function? Can approaches to study music help us to understand bird song? These and other questions have been studied extensively and have contributed significantly to broader fields in science. This presentation will provide an overview about the key features of bird song as a communication system.

About the Speaker:

Marc Naguib is professor in Behavioural Ecology at the Animal Science Department of Wageningen University. He is specialized in vocal communication with a focus on bird song, social behaviour and social networks in songbirds. Furthermore he conducts research on how personality traits in animals affect behaviour and how the environment experienced during early development affects behaviour later in life. His research group also conducts research in animal welfare related issues. His research on bird song includes basic structural analyses, effects of sound degradation by transmission through the environment, song learning, vocal interactions, territorial functions, and he recently contributed to a study on musical approaches to study birdsong.