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Age often indicates phenotypic quality, ecological experience or social status in animals. Consequently, behavioural signals in territorial animals that accurately convey age to potential mates or rivals might provide useful information for both signaller and receiver about the likelihood of aggression. We tested whether male territorial yodels convey information about age in the common loon, Gavia immer. Using a sample of male loons of known age, we found that the dominant frequency of Fintro3, a dominant syllable in the beginning sequence of a male yodel, increases strongly with age, but we were unable to replicate an earlier finding linking Fintro3 to body mass. We hypothesize that older male loons, which yodel more often than young males, might do so as a means to advertise their age and higher likelihood of aggression to potential rivals.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Animal Behaviour. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Animal Behaviour, volume 209, in 2024.

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