Postdoc - Univ. Paris Sud

Université Paris Sud, bat.446
91405 Orsay cedex


Research Interest

    I’m interested in functions and the acquisition of song in birds. In most northern temperate zone species only male birds sing and females don’t which is probably associated with the specific conditions that those species have to face (e.g. seasonality, migration). However, song is not restricted to males and in particular in tropical species singing in females is rather common. Therefore, my research includes both temperate and tropical model species.

Vocal learning is restricted to humans, certain marine mammals, bats and three taxa of birds, amongst them the oscine songbirds. In nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos), a temperate songbird, I investigated the song learning process in a species with an extraordinary large vocal repertoire. In blue capped cordon bleus (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) – a tropical estrildid relative of the well-studied zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) – both males and females sing. In this species, I studied sex-specific differences in the song learning and it’s temporal course.

The dual function of birdsong, mate attraction and territorial defence, has been mainly studied in species with typical sex roles. Typically, females make a larger parental investment, are the limiting sex and can effort choosing their mate, whereas males are competitive and have evolved secondary sexual signals, such as song. It follows that it should be generally the competing sex that uses secondary sexual signals to attract mates and to deter rivals. To test this, I investigated the territorial function of female song in a bird species with reversed sex-roles, the African black coucal (Centropus grillii).

Current Projects & Collaborations

   Deciphering learned individual signatures in the acoustic network of a territorial songbird: the skylark Alauda arvensis. Project in collaboration with Thierry Aubin, Fanny Rybak (Bioacoustics team) and Manfred Gahr (Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany)


Some Selected Publications

Nemeth, E., Pieretti, N., Zollinger, S. A., Geberzahn, N., Partecke, J., Miranda, A. C. & Brumm, H. (2013) Bird song and anthropogenic noise: vocal constraints may explain why birds sing higher pitched songs in cities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280(1754): 1471-2954

Geberzahn, N., Hultsch, H. & Todt, D.: Memory-dependent adjustment of vocal response latencies in a territorial songbird. J. Physiol. (2012).

Geberzahn N., Gahr M.: Undirected (Solitary) Birdsong in Female and Male Blue-Capped Cordon-Bleus (Uraeginthus cyanocephalus) and Its Endocrine Correlates. PLoS ONE 6(10): e26485 (2011)

Holveck M.-J., Geberzahn N., Riebel K. An Experimental Test of Condition-Dependent Male and Female Mate Choice in Zebra Finches. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23974 (2011)

Geberzahn, N., Goymann, W. and ten Cate, C.: Threat signaling in female song - evidence from playback in a sex-role reversed species. Behavioral Ecology 21, 1147-1155 (2010)

Geberzahn, N., Goymann, W, Muck, C, ten Cate, C.: Females alter their song when challenged in a sex-role reversed bird species. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64: 193-204 (2009)

Todt, D. and Geberzahn, N.: Age dependent effects of song exposure: song crystallization sets a boundary between fast and delayed vocal imitation. Animal Behaviour 65, 971-979 (2003)

Geberzahn, N. and Hultsch, H.: Long-time storage of song types in birds: evidence from interactive playbacks. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 270, 1085-1090 (2003)

Geberzahn, N., Hultsch, H. and Todt, D.: Latent song type memories are accessible through auditory stimulation in a hand-reared songbird. Animal Behaviour 64, 93-100 (2002)

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Female Cordon Bleu song
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Male Cordon Bleu song
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Female Black Coucal song

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