Most studies on the relationship between measures of song behavior and the sizes of song control nuclei have focused on one or two oscine species, and often show inconsistent results. To address this issue, we first measured four variables for song complexity, i.e., song repertoire size, syllable repertoire size, the mean number of syllables per phrase (MNS) and the number of syllables in the longest phrase (NSLP), and the sizes of three song control nuclei, i.e., HVC, RA (the robust nucleus of the arcopallium), and Area × in 14 oscine species from eight families. To tackle the problem of statistical non-independence that probably existed among the closely related species, we reconstructed the phylogeny of the species studied using mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequences from GenBank. By using the methods adopted in most previous reports, we tested the relationship between song complexity and the sizes of the song control nuclei. We found that: 1) the absolute sizes of RA and Area X, but not of HVC, were positively correlated to the three measures of song complexity, but that only the residual size of RA in regard to telencephalon size was significantly correlated to the song measures; 2) independent contrasts analysis showed RA and Area × to be significantly associated with NSLP. Our results indicated that the relationship between song behavior and its neural structures varied among song nuclei, suggesting that each song control nucleus may play a different role in song behavior.
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