Daily and seasonal fluctuation in Tawny Owl vocalization timing

Patricia V. Agostino (Lead Author), Nicholas A. Lusk, Warren H. Meck, Diego A. Golombek, Guy Peryer

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A robust adaptation to environmental changes is vital for survival. Almost all living organisms have a circadian timing system that allows adjusting their physiology to cyclic variations in the surrounding environment. Among vertebrates, many birds are also seasonal species, adapting their physiology to annual changes in photoperiod (amplitude, length and duration). Tawny Owls (Strix aluco) are nocturnal birds of prey that use vocalization as their principal mechanism of communication. Diurnal and seasonal changes in vocalization have been described for several vocal species, including songbirds. Comparable studies are lacking for owls. In the present work, we show that male Tawny Owls present a periodic vocalization pattern in the seconds-to-minutes range that is subject to both daily (early vs. late night) and seasonal (spring vs. summer) rhythmicity. These novel theory-generating findings appear to extend the role of the circadian system in regulating temporal events in the seconds-to-minutes range to other species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0231591
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


  • Interval timing
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Time perception

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