Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Elizabeth MacDougall-Shackleton

Second Advisor

Dr. Yolanda Morbey

Third Advisor

Dr. Jeremy McNeil


Birdsong is a complex, multi-component signal. The ‘multiple messages hypothesis’ proposes that each component conveys different information about male quality. If so, certain components may be preferentially advertised or provide different selective advantages. I examined three song components (complexity, sharing, and output) using an acoustic location system to record song sparrows (Melospiza melodia). First, I tested whether males preferentially advertise highly shared songs. I found no general pattern to overproduce such songs; however, older males preferentially sang highly shared dawn song before the onset of nesting. Additionally, daytime song contained more shared content when overall output was low. Second, I investigated the relationship between song components and different aspects of male fitness. None of the components were related to these fitness measures. While shared song is important for male-male interactions, another aspect of song likely advertises male quality to females, supporting the idea that song in this species is multi-faceted.



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