Developmental effects of daily food availability times on song behaviour and neuronal plasticity of song-control system in male zebra finches

Ila Mishra, Twinkle Batra, Abhilash Prabhat, Neha Agarwal, Sanjay Kumar Bhardwaj, Vinod Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Food availability is a major ecological factor and affects body condition and sexual traits. Here, we investigated whether males’ song behaviour, a trait for female mate choice, was sensitive to the food availability period and its timing in songbirds. We manipulated daily food availability to 4 h in the morning or evening, with controls on food ad libitum, and assessed its effects on song behaviour and forebrain song control system in male zebra finches that were held as adult (parent) or offspring (since birth) at 24 ± 2 °C under 12 h daily photoperiod. Food restriction significantly affected both temporal and spectral features of daily song in offspring, not the parent. In offspring, we found reduced mesor (mean 24-h levels), attenuated amplitude (daily maxima relative to mesor) and altered acrophase (estimated time of daily maxima) of 24-h rhythm, and reduced motif length (in morning-fed), per motif unique syllables and an enhanced song pitch (in evening-fed). There was also a positive correlation of motif length with cheek patch and plasma testosterone levels, and of per motif syllables with cheek patch and daily activity levels in offspring. Among main song controlling forebrain nuclei, LMAN and HVC were reduced in size, and Area X and HVC showed decreased neuronal recruitment in offspring on food restrictions. These results demonstrate the importance of daily food availability and its timing in determining males’ sexual signals, and support growing evidence that among vertebrates well-fed males contain reproductive traits that females use for its mate choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112497
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Mar 16 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The funds were provided through a regular research grant ( EMR/2015/002158 ) to VK from the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), New Delhi . The experimental facility was built under the IRHPA grant support ( IR/SO/LU-2005 ) by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). We thank Shiv Kumari Patel and Chuskit Angmo for their help in song data analyses. Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Doublecortin
  • Food availability
  • Song behaviour
  • Song control nuclei
  • Zebra finch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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