Minimum spanning tree as a new, robust repertoire size comparison method

simulation and test on birdsong

Sándor Zsebők, G. Herczeg, György Blázi, Miklós Laczi, Gergely Nagy, J. Török, László Zsolt Garamszegi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The comparison of acoustic complexity across individuals is often essential for understanding the evolution of acoustic signals. In many animal taxa, as a proxy of acoustic complexity, repertoire size is intensively studied; however, its estimation is challenging in species with large repertoires, as this process is time-consuming and may involve considerable subjectivity for the classification of signal elements. Here, we propose a novel application of the minimum spanning tree (MST) method for comparing individuals’ signal complexity, an approach that does not require classification process. We suggest that the differences in the MST length predict the differences in the repertoire sizes between individuals. To evaluate these proposals, first, we performed a simulation study investigating the effect of the practically important variables (repertoire size, number of acoustic parameters, sample size, distribution of element types and within-group variance) on the MST length. Second, we compared repertoire size estimates from the same song data from male collared flycatchers obtained using the fully manual, computer-aided manual and MST methods. In our simulation study, we found that the repertoire size strongly correlated with MST length. We also found significant effects of sample size, number of parameters and within-group variance, as well as how uniformly the samples were distributed between the groups, on the MST length. Our empirical data also revealed a strong correlation between the computer-aided manual estimation of repertoire sizes and MST length, which was comparable to the correlation between the estimations of repertoire size obtained using the two different manual methods. Therefore, we suggest using the MST method to compare the acoustic complexity among individuals in birds and other animals, with the practical restrictions suggested by our simulation results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume72
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2018

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acoustics
simulation
testing
taxonomy
methodology
sampling
animal communication
animals
test
comparison
method
animal
song
birds
bird

Keywords

  • Acoustic complexity
  • Birdsong
  • Minimum spanning tree
  • Repertoire size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Minimum spanning tree as a new, robust repertoire size comparison method : simulation and test on birdsong. / Zsebők, Sándor; Herczeg, G.; Blázi, György; Laczi, Miklós; Nagy, Gergely; Török, J.; Garamszegi, László Zsolt.

In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 72, No. 3, 48, 01.03.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Zsebők, Sándor ; Herczeg, G. ; Blázi, György ; Laczi, Miklós ; Nagy, Gergely ; Török, J. ; Garamszegi, László Zsolt. / Minimum spanning tree as a new, robust repertoire size comparison method : simulation and test on birdsong. In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 2018 ; Vol. 72, No. 3.
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