Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An Investigation of the Song Complexity of Toutouwai (Petroica longipes)

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posted on 2023-05-13, 04:07 authored by Hartshorne, Olivia

In this thesis, I examined the complexity of song repertoires in the endemic North Island robin (Petroica longipes), a highly territorial species. Focussing on the males of a robin population found in Zealandia, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, I first tested the territorial function of song complexity by looking for evidence of the dear enemy effect (reduced aggressiveness in an individual’s response to neighbouring heterospecifics compared to non-neighbours) within my study population. There was a significant difference in the responses to neighbour and non-neighbour songs in a playback experiment, supporting the dear enemy effect. I then investigated the overall complexity of the songs of males within the study population by identifying and evaluating the phrases that they use within songs. I show that that North Island robins have rich song repertoires that appear to be stable across time for this population, based on data from 2015 and 2021/ 2022. However, based on the measures of song complexity used within my thesis, there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that more complex songs are correlated with a male’s reproductive success.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Ecology and Biodiversity

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Biological Sciences


Shaw, Rachael; Marsland, Stephen