Prolonged exposure to conspecific song stimulates gonadal function and reproductive hormone secretion in female birds but few studies have investigated the physiological effects of conspecific song exposure on males outside of short-term, aggressive interactions. We exposed male Rufous-winged Sparrows, Aimophila carpalis, either to conspecific song (CS Song), to heterospecific song (Black-throated Sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata; HS Song), or to no recorded song (No Song) for 59 consecutive days (two h per day). Birds were exposed to short days (8L:16D) for the first 21 days of treatment and were then transferred to long days (13L:11D) for the remaining 38 days. During long day exposure, CS Song birds experienced faster growth of testes than HS Song and No Song birds. HS Song birds also grew their testes faster than No Song birds. Plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone did not differ between CS Song and No Song birds. However, plasma LH was higher in HS Song birds compared to other groups. There were no differences in hypothalamic immunocytochemical labeling for gonadotropin-releasing hormone, its precursor proGnRH, or gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone, nor were there differences in two song control nuclei volumes (HVC and RA) between CS Song and No Song treatment groups. Furthermore, we found no effect of heterospecific song on free-living Rufous-winged Sparrow aggressive behaviors. These data indicate that long-term exposure to auditory stimuli, such as song, can influence the reproductive system of male songbirds and different types of auditory stimuli can have differential effects on reproductive function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience