Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Biological Sciences
Charles F Thompson
Scott K Sakaluk
Beautiful and abundant, bird song has long captured the attention of evolutionary biologists interested in sexual selection. Although most studies have examined single facets of song in relation to male-male competition (intrasexual selection) and female mate choice (intersexual selection), selection typically acts on multiple components that collectively influence an individual’s mating success. By studying how multiple components of song simultaneously play a role in male-male competition and female mate choice, we can better understand how sexual selection has directly and indirectly shaped this elaborate trait. I explored the role of male song in the context of sexual selection in northern house wrens (Troglodytes aedon), a species with exceptionally complex song and large song-type repertoires. Male song in this species is clearly important in both intra- and intersexual contexts, however, the specific song components that elicit aggression in males and attract females remain unknown. In this research, I describe (1) how males respond to a simulated threat of cuckoldry imposed by song in the wild, (2) the notes, song-types, and song production patterns of males breeding in north-central Illinois, and (3) the relationship between song structure and fitness across different episodes of selection.
DiSciullo, Rachael A., "Disentangling Sexual Selection on a Complex, Multicomponent Trait: Song of the Northern House Wren" (2023). Theses and Dissertations. 1732.
Available for download on Monday, September 22, 2025