London, July 19 (ANI): Researchers from Oxford University have found that female birds change the way they sing to prevent males from flirting with other females.
They found that warbling antbirds, which form lifelong partnerships in the tropical forests of South America where they are found, normally sing duets to mark their territory.
However, when single females in the area sing in a bid to lure a mate, the paired females change the volume and pattern of their song so that it 'jams' any response from their male partner.
But males, which became excited when they heard the song of the lone female, respond by changing their songs to avoid this interference from their mates.
According to the researchers, their findings provide an insight into how animals have evolved duets and may even shed light on the origins of dance and music in humans.
Dr Nathalie Seddon, a zoologist at Oxford University, said that the birds in partnerships compete to be heard, leading to innovative changes in their songs.
"Males and females in the Amazon forest tend to pair for life, so they tend to produce songs in duets to defend their territories," the Telegraph quoted her as saying.
"A females will jam the notes of the male's song if they hear a single female in the area while the male attempts to interject another song so they can be heard in a kind of acoustic battle," she added.
Seddon, who has just been awarded a L'Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science award for her work, and her colleague Dr Joseph Tobias carried out their study by tracking 17 pairs of antbirds in the Peruvian rainforest.
By playing each couple the songs of a rival pair or the song a single female, they were then able to record how they reacted.
The researchers found that when faced with a rival pair, the couple responded together in a precise and co-ordinated duet, but when they heard a single female, the duet broke down as the paired females attempted to block out the calls of their partners.
Tobias said: "Single females are a threat to paired females because they increase the likelihood that males will cheat on their existing partner or abandon them for a new one." (ANI)