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Wheatcroft, David
Publications (10 of 18) Show all publications
Gallego-Abenza, M., Mathevon, N. & Wheatcroft, D. (2020). Experience modulates an insect's response to anthropogenic noise. Behavioral Ecology, 31(1), 90-96
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Experience modulates an insect's response to anthropogenic noise
2020 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology, ISSN 1045-2249, E-ISSN 1465-7279, Vol. 31, no 1, p. 90-96Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In response to anthropogenic noise, vertebrates express modified acoustic communication signals either through individual plasticity or local population adaptation. In contrast, how insects respond to this stressor is poorly studied. Field crickets Gryllus bimaculatus use acoustic signals to attract and locate mates and are commonly found in noisy roadside environments, offering a powerful system to study the effects of anthropogenic noise on insect communication. Rapid repetition of sexual calls (chirps) is essential to attract females, but calling incurs energetic costs and attracts predators. As a result, males are predicted to reduce calling rates when background noise is high. Here, we combine observations and experimental playbacks to show that the responses of field cricket males to anthropogenic noise also depend on their previous experience with passing cars. First, we show that males living on highway edges decrease their chirp rate in response to passing cars. To assess whether this behavioral response depends on previous exposure to car noise, we then broadcast recordings of car noise to males located at different distances from the road and, therefore, with different previous exposure to car noise. Although all tested individuals responded to broadcasted traffic noise, males closest to the road decreased their chirp rate less than individuals calling further from the road. These results suggest that regular exposure to anthropogenic noise may decrease individuals' sensitivity and behavioral responses to noise, allowing them to maintain effective signaling rates. Behavioral plasticity modulated by experience may thus allow some insect species to cope with human-induced environmental stressors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2020
Keywords
acoustic adaptation, anthropogenic noise, behavioral plasticity, Gryllus bimaculatus, insect, sexual signals
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-407625 (URN)10.1093/beheco/arz159 (DOI)000515094600016 ()
Available from: 2020-03-31 Created: 2020-03-31 Last updated: 2020-03-31Bibliographically approved
Dutour, M., Suzuki, T. N. & Wheatcroft, D. (2020). Great tit responses to the calls of an unfamiliar species suggest conserved perception of call ordering. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 74(3), Article ID 37.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Great tit responses to the calls of an unfamiliar species suggest conserved perception of call ordering
2020 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, ISSN 0340-5443, E-ISSN 1432-0762, Vol. 74, no 3, article id 37Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many species of birds produce distinct calls when mobbing predators. These calls often recruit nearby conspecifics and heterospecifics to help drive the predators away. In some species, such as members of the family Paridae, mobbing calls are composed of multiple elements that seem to follow a characteristic order. Previous work in parids demonstrated that note ordering influences both the responses of conspecifics and some other co-occurring Paridae species. Cross-species sensitivity to note ordering could result from individuals' learning to associate individual heterospecific calls with threats or, rather, because the typical note orderings are shared across species. Here, we test these hypotheses by assessing the responses of European great tits (Parus major) to the naturally and artificially ordered calls of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), a North American species. In response to the naturally ordered mobbing calls of chickadees, we found that great tits exhibit vigilance and rapidly approach the sound source, behaviors that were indistinguishable to those expressed in response to conspecific calls. If learned associations are necessary for sensitivity to note ordering, then a key prediction is that great tit responses to naturally ordered and artificially reversed chickadee calls should be similar (and weak). In contrast to this prediction, we found that great tits were less vigilant, but approach the sound source in response to artificially reversed chickadee calls. These findings suggest that perception of note ordering patterns is conserved. However, they are also in agreement with a "perception bias" hypothesis: that the first notes of the call mask the notes that follow them, preventing the receiver from perceiving the second part of the call. Although we provide evidence against perception bias, further research is needed to convincingly disentangle these two hypotheses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGER, 2020
Keywords
Alarm call, Bird, Interspecific attraction, Mobbing behavior, Paridae
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-409680 (URN)10.1007/s00265-020-2820-7 (DOI)000521053300001 ()
Available from: 2020-04-27 Created: 2020-04-27 Last updated: 2020-04-27Bibliographically approved
Suzuki, T. N., Wheatcroft, D. & Griesser, M. (2020). The syntax-semantics interface in animal vocal communication. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, 375(1789), Article ID 20180405.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The syntax-semantics interface in animal vocal communication
2020 (English)In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8436, E-ISSN 1471-2970, Vol. 375, no 1789, article id 20180405Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Syntax (rules for combining words or elements) and semantics (meaning of expressions) are two pivotal features of human language, and interaction between them allows us to generate a limitless number of meaningful expressions. While both features were traditionally thought to be unique to human language, research over the past four decades has revealed intriguing parallels in animal communication systems. Many birds and mammals produce specific calls with distinct meanings, and some species combine multiple meaningful calls into syntactically ordered sequences. However, it remains largely unclear whether, like phrases or sentences in human language, the meaning of these call sequences depends on both the meanings of the component calls and their syntactic order. Here, leveraging recently demonstrated examples of meaningful call combinations, we introduce a framework for exploring the interaction between syntax and semantics (i.e. the syntax-semantic interface) in animal vocal sequences. We outline methods to test the cognitive mechanisms underlying the production and perception of animal vocal sequences and suggest potential evolutionary scenarios for syntactic communication. We hope that this review will stimulate phenomenological studies on animal vocal sequences as well as experimental studies on the cognitive processes, which promise to provide further insights into the evolution of language. This article is part of the theme issue 'What can animal communication teach us about human language?'

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROYAL SOC, 2020
Keywords
animal communication, compositionality, idiom, language evolution, semantics, syntax
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-403535 (URN)10.1098/rstb.2018.0405 (DOI)000506580700004 ()31735156 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2020-01-31 Created: 2020-01-31 Last updated: 2020-01-31Bibliographically approved
Suzuki, T. N., Griesser, M. & Wheatcroft, D. (2019). Syntactic rules in avian vocal sequences as a window into the evolution of compositionality. Animal Behaviour, 151, 267-274
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Syntactic rules in avian vocal sequences as a window into the evolution of compositionality
2019 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, E-ISSN 1095-8282, Vol. 151, p. 267-274Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Understanding the origins and evolution of language remains a deep challenge, because its complexity and expressive power are unparalleled in the animal world. One of the key features of language is that the meaning of an expression is determined both by the meanings of its constituent parts and the syntactic rules used to combine them; known as the principle of compositionality. Although compositionality has been considered unique to language, recent field studies suggest that compositionality may have also evolved in vocal combinations in nonhuman animals. Here, we discuss how compositionality can be explored in animal communication systems and review recent evidence that birds use an ordering rule to generate compositional expressions composed of meaningful calls. Also, we suggest that bird-songs, particularly when incorporating calls, may represent unrecognized examples of compositionality in animal communication. Finally, we outline future research directions to uncover the development, neural mechanisms and evolution of compositionality. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2019
Keywords
bird, birdsong, call combination, communication, compositionality, language evolution, syntax
National Category
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-384083 (URN)10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.01.009 (DOI)000467013300027 ()
Available from: 2019-06-18 Created: 2019-06-18 Last updated: 2019-06-18Bibliographically approved
Suzuki, T. N., Wheatcroft, D. & Griesser, M. (2018). Call combinations in birds and the evolution of compositional syntax. PLoS biology, 16(8), Article ID e2006532.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Call combinations in birds and the evolution of compositional syntax
2018 (English)In: PLoS biology, ISSN 1544-9173, E-ISSN 1545-7885, Vol. 16, no 8, article id e2006532Article in journal, Editorial material (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Syntax is the set of rules for combining words into phrases, providing the basis for the generative power of linguistic expressions. In human language, the principle of compositionality governs how words are combined into a larger unit, the meaning of which depends on both the meanings of the words and the way in which they are combined. This linguistic capability, i.e., compositional syntax, has long been considered a trait unique to human language. Here, we review recent studies on call combinations in a passerine bird, the Japanese tit (Parus minor), that provide the first firm evidence for compositional syntax in a nonhuman animal. While it has been suggested that the findings of these studies fail to provide evidence for compositionality in Japanese tits, this criticism is based on misunderstanding of experimental design, misrepresentation of the importance of word order in human syntax, and necessitating linguistic capabilities beyond those given by the standard definition of compositionality. We argue that research on avian call combinations has provided the first steps in elucidating how compositional expressions could have emerged in animal communication systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2018
National Category
Zoology General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-364731 (URN)10.1371/journal.pbio.2006532 (DOI)000443383300035 ()30110321 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2018-11-01 Created: 2018-11-01 Last updated: 2018-11-01Bibliographically approved
Sirkiä, P. M., McFarlane, S. E., Jones, W., Wheatcroft, D., Ålund, M., Rybinski, J. & Qvarnström, A. (2018). Climate-driven build-up of temporal isolation within a recently formed avian hybrid zone.. Evolution, 72(2), 363-374
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Climate-driven build-up of temporal isolation within a recently formed avian hybrid zone.
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2018 (English)In: Evolution, ISSN 0014-3820, E-ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 72, no 2, p. 363-374Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Divergence in the onset of reproduction can act as an important source of reproductive isolation (i.e., allochronic isolation) between co-occurring young species, but evidence for the evolutionary processes leading to such divergence is often indirect. While advancing spring seasons strongly affect the onset of reproduction in many taxa, it remains largely unexplored whether contemporary spring advancement directly affects allochronic isolation between young species. We examined how increasing spring temperatures affected onset of reproduction and thereby hybridization between pied and collared flycatchers (Ficedula spp.) across habitat types in a young secondary contact zone. We found that both species have advanced their timing of breeding in 14 years. However, selection on pied flycatchers to breed earlier was weaker, resulting in a slower response to advancing springs compared to collared flycatchers and thereby build-up of allochronic isolation between the species. We argue that a preadaptation to a broader niche use (diet) of pied flycatchers explains the slower response to raising spring temperature, but that reduced risk to hybridize may contribute to further divergence in the onset of breeding in the future. Our results show that minor differences in the response to environmental change of co-occurring closely related species can quickly cause allochronic isolation.

Keywords
Competitive exclusion, ecological speciation, prezygotic isolation, reinforcement, speciation, temporal segregation
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-341102 (URN)10.1111/evo.13404 (DOI)000424131100011 ()29214649 (PubMedID)
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilAcademy of Finland
Available from: 2018-02-06 Created: 2018-02-06 Last updated: 2019-03-10Bibliographically approved
Wheatcroft, D. & Price, T. D. (2018). Collective Action Promoted by Key Individuals. American Naturalist, 192(4), 401-414
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Collective Action Promoted by Key Individuals
2018 (English)In: American Naturalist, ISSN 0003-0147, E-ISSN 1537-5323, Vol. 192, no 4, p. 401-414Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Explaining why individuals participate in risky group behaviors has been a long-term challenge. We experimentally studied the formation of groups of birds (mobs) that aggressively confront predators and avian nest parasites and developed a theoretical model to evaluate the conditions under which mobs arise. We presented taxidermied mounts of predators on adult birds (hawks and owls) and of nest threats (crows and cuckoos) at different distances to nests of Phylloscopus warblers. Even when alone, birds are aggressive toward predators of adult birds, both at and away from their nests. By contrast, birds aggressively confront nest threats alone only when they have a nest nearby. However, strong initial responses by nest owners lead individuals without nearby nests to increase their responses, thereby generating a mob. Building on these findings, we derive the conditions in which individuals are incentivized to invest more when joining a high-gain individual compared to when acting alone. Strong responses of high-gain individuals acting alone tend to reduce the investments of other high-gain individuals that subsequently join. However, individuals that benefit sufficiently little from acting alone increase their investments when joining a high-gain individual and can even be sufficiently incentivized to join in when they would otherwise not act alone. Together, these results suggest an important role for key individuals in the generation of some group behaviors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
UNIV CHICAGO PRESS, 2018
Keywords
antipredator behavior, by-product mutualism, collective action, cooperation, group formation, mobbing behavior
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-365285 (URN)10.1086/698874 (DOI)000444262900003 ()30205027 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2018-11-13 Created: 2018-11-13 Last updated: 2018-11-13Bibliographically approved
Griesser, M., Wheatcroft, D. & Suzuki, T. N. (2018). From bird calls to human language: exploring the evolutionary drivers of compositional syntax. CURRENT OPINION IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, 21, 6-12
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From bird calls to human language: exploring the evolutionary drivers of compositional syntax
2018 (English)In: CURRENT OPINION IN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, ISSN 2352-1546, Vol. 21, p. 6-12Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Compositional syntax, where lexical items are combined into larger units, has been assumed to be unique to human language. Recent experiments, however, showed that Japanese tits combine alert and recruitment calls into alert-recruitment sequences when attracting conspecifics to join in mobbing a predator. We speculate that such call combinations are favoured when: Firstly, callers and receivers have shared interests in exchanging information; secondly, species produce different types of calls in different situations, leading to distinct behavioural responses in receivers; and finally, complex situations exist in which receivers benefit by combining two or more behaviours. These preconditions were also present in human ancestors. Thus, future work on bird calls may provide insights into the evolution of compositional syntax in human language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-366316 (URN)10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.11.002 (DOI)000440543600003 ()
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 665778
Available from: 2018-11-20 Created: 2018-11-20 Last updated: 2018-11-20Bibliographically approved
Wheatcroft, D. & Qvarnström, A. (2017). Genetic divergence of early song discrimination between two young songbird species. NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 1(7), Article ID UNSP 0192.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Genetic divergence of early song discrimination between two young songbird species
2017 (English)In: NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, ISSN 2397-334X, Vol. 1, no 7, article id UNSP 0192Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Juvenile songbirds express species-specific song discrimination from an early age, which focuses learning onto the songs of their parental species. However, it remains unknown whether this early song discrimination is influenced by early social experience or maternal effects or whether it is instead largely genetically determined. We manipulated early social experience by swapping young embryos between the nests of two co-occurring songbird species-pied and collared flycatchers. We show that nestlings are more active in response to playbacks of conspecific songs, even when raised by adults from the other species, thus enabling us to reject social experience as the main determinant of early song discrimination. We then crossed the two species in captivity and showed that the song responses of hybrid nestlings do not depend on social experience or maternal species, implying genetic divergence of early song discrimination. Our results provide conclusive evidence that early song discrimination has a largely genetic component, which can stabilize reproductive isolation by reducing song learning across closely related species.

National Category
Genetics Zoology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-344538 (URN)10.1038/s41559-017-0192 (DOI)000417179000020 ()
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Available from: 2018-03-07 Created: 2018-03-07 Last updated: 2018-03-07Bibliographically approved
Wheatcroft, D. & Qvarnström, A. (2017). Reproductive character displacement of female, but not male song discrimination in an avian hybrid zone. Evolution, 71(7), 1776-1786
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reproductive character displacement of female, but not male song discrimination in an avian hybrid zone
2017 (English)In: Evolution, ISSN 0014-3820, E-ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 71, no 7, p. 1776-1786Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Divergence of male sexual signals and female preferences for those signals often maintains reproductive boundaries between closely related, co-occurring species. However, contrasting sources of selection, such as interspecific competition, can lead to weak divergence or even convergence of sexual signals in sympatry. When signals converge, assortative mating can be maintained if the mating preferences of females diverge in sympatry (reproductive character displacement; RCD), but there are few explicit examples. Pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) are sympatric with collared flycatchers (F. albicollis) on the Baltic island of oland, where males from both species compete over nestboxes, their songs converge, and the two species occasionally hybridize. We compare song discrimination of male and female pied flycatchers on oland and in an allopatric population on the Swedish mainland. Using field choice trials, we show that male pied flycatchers respond similarly to the songs of both species in sympatry and allopatry, while female pied flycatchers express stronger discrimination against heterospecific songs in sympatry than in allopatry. These results are consistent with RCD of song discrimination of female pied flycatchers where they co-occur with collared flycatchers, which should maintain species assortative mating despite convergence of male sexual signals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY, 2017
Keywords
Ficedula, reinforcement, reproductive character displacement, sexual signals, song discrimination, species recognition
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-331248 (URN)10.1111/evo.13267 (DOI)000405888100004 ()28493350 (PubMedID)
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Available from: 2017-10-24 Created: 2017-10-24 Last updated: 2017-10-24Bibliographically approved
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