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High-speed video analysis of wing-snapping in two manakin clades (Pipridae: Aves)
Kimberly S. Bostwick, Richard O. Prum


Basic kinematic and detailed physical mechanisms of avian, non-vocal sound production are both unknown. Here, for the first time, field-generated high-speed video recordings and acoustic analyses are used to test numerous competing hypotheses of the kinematics underlying sonations, or non-vocal communicative sounds, produced by two genera of Pipridae, Manacus and Pipra (Aves). Eleven behaviorally and acoustically distinct sonations are characterized, five of which fall into a specific acoustic class of relatively loud, brief, broad-frequency sound pulses, or snaps. The hypothesis that one kinematic mechanism of snap production is used within and between birds in general, and manakins specifically, is rejected. Instead, it is verified that three of four competing hypotheses of the kinematic mechanisms used for producing snaps, namely: (1) above-the-back wing-against-wing claps, (2) wing-against-body claps and (3) wing-into-air flicks, are employed between these two clades, and a fourth mechanism, (4) wing-against-tail feather interactions, is discovered. The kinematic mechanisms used to produce snaps are invariable within each identified sonation, despite the fact that a diversity of kinematic mechanisms are used among sonations. The other six sonations described are produced by kinematic mechanisms distinct from those used to create snaps, but are difficult to distinguish from each other and from the kinematics of flight. These results provide the first detailed kinematic information on mechanisms of sonation in birds in general, and the Pipridae specifically. Further, these results provide the first evidence that acoustically similar avian sonations, such as brief, broad frequency snaps, can be produced by diverse kinematic means, both among and within species. The use of high-speed video recordings in the field in a comparative manner documents the diversity of kinematic mechanisms used to sonate, and uncovers a hidden, sexually selected radiation of behavioral and communicative diversity in the Pipridae.

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