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Allometry, Bilateral Asymmetry and Sexual Differences in the Vocal Tract of Common Eiders Somateria mollissima and King Eiders S. spectabilis

Edward H. Miller, Joni Williams, Sarah E. Jamieson, H. Grant Gilchrist and Mark L. Mallory
Journal of Avian Biology
Vol. 38, No. 2 (Mar., 2007), pp. 224-233
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30243828
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Allometry, Bilateral Asymmetry and Sexual Differences in the Vocal Tract of Common Eiders Somateria mollissima and King Eiders S. spectabilis
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Abstract

Intraspecific sexual differences, high variation, and positive allometry of sexually-selected external display structures are common. Many sexually-selected anatomical specializations occur in the avian vocal tract but intraspecific variation and allometry have been investigated little. The tracheal bulla bulla syringealis occurs in males of most duck species. We quantified variation and size-scaling of the bulla, plus sexual differences in size of trachea, bronchi, and vocal muscles, for 62 common eiders Somateria mollissima and 51 king eiders S. spectabilis. Trends were similar in both species. Bullar ossification and definitive size occurred early in life: bullar size did not differ between first-year and older males. Bullar size did not vary more than size of other body parts (CVs of 3.4-7.0% for bullar length and breadth). Bullar size scaled to body size with negative allometry or isometry. Vocal muscles were 10-50% thicker in males than females, a much greater sexual difference than in body size (CVs of 3-6% on linear body-size variables). Vocal muscles were larger on the left side in both sexes and bilateral asymmetry was slightly more pronounced in males. Low variation and a trend towards negative allometry suggest that bullar size is under stabilizing selection; if bullar size affects vocal attributes of voice, then the latter cannot be condition-dependent. We recommend comparative research on vocal communication, vocal individuality and vocal-tract anatomy and function in eiders and other ducks.

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