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Source: Official Guide Revised GRE 1st Ed. Part 8; Section 3; #12


It can be inferred from the passage that compared

It can be inferred from the passage that compared with other costs of singing, which of the following is true of the energy costs of singing? Animal signals, such as the complex songs of birds, tend to be costly. A bird, by singing, may forfeit time that could otherwise be spent on other important behaviors such as foraging or resting. Singing may also advertise an individual’s location to rivals or predators line and impair the ability to detect their approach. Although these types of cost may be important, discussions of the cost of singing have generally focused on energy costs. Overall the evidence is equivocal: for instance, while Eberhardt found increases in energy consumption during singing for Carolina wrens, Chappell found no effect of crowing on energy consumption in roosters. To obtain empirical data regarding the energy costs of singing, Thomas examined the relationship between song rate and overnight changes in body mass of male nightingales. Birds store energy as subcutaneous fat deposits or “body reserves”; changes in these reserves can be reliably estimated by measuring changes in body mass. If singing has important energy costs, nightingales should lose more body mass on nights when their song rate is high. Thomas found that nightingales reached a significantly higher body mass at dusk and lost more mass overnight on nights when their song rate was high. These results suggest that there may be several costs of singing at night associated with body reserves. The increased metabolic cost of possessing higher body mass contributes to the increased overnight mass loss. The strategic regulation of evening body reserves is also likely to incur additional costs, as nightingales must spend more time foraging in order to build up larger body reserves. The metabolic cost of singing itself may also contribute to increased loss of reserves. This metabolic cost may arise from the muscular and neural activity involved in singing or from behaviors associated with singing. For example, birds may expend more of their reserves on thermoregulation if they spend the night exposed to the wind on a song post than if they are in a sheltered roost site. Thomas’s data therefore show that whether or not singing per se has an important metabolic cost, metabolic costs associated with singing can have an important measurable effect on a bird’s daily energy budget, at least in birds with high song rates such as nightingales. They are the single greatest cost to an individual bird.
They have generally received more attention from scientists.
They vary less from one bird species to another.

2 Explanations


Nakul Nagaraj

Last sentence: "Thomas's data therefore show.........such as nightingales."

Why doesn't this sentence offer an explanation for C?

Aug 29, 2017 • Comment


Hi Nakul,

As I noted in my answer to Sofia's question (see below), we already know that the costs do vary. We don't know that they very "less" from one species to another. It's not really clear what this would mean. Less than what? Less than from birds to a non-bird species?

The sentence you've cited says that metabolic costs associated with singing have a measurable effect on bird's daily energy budget, but that doesn't give us any information about whether these costs "vary less" than something else.

Sep 1, 2017 • Reply


Chris Lele

Oct 9, 2012 • Comment

Sofia Ababou

Hi there. I don't understand why "they vary less from one bird species to another" is incorrect. The fact that Eberhard found increases in energy consumption for wrens and Chapell found no effect for rooster shows that the costs of singing vary from one to another (in this case, roosters and wrens).


Nov 7, 2016 • Reply


Hi Sofia!

First, as Chris noted in the video, these results are "equivocal," which means they don't give us a straight answer. But, as you noted, this shows that costs may indeed vary. So it doesn't make sense to say that they vary LESS from one species to another, since, although the data is equivocal, it seems to point toward the idea that costs do vary. They don't vary LESS than something else.

Nov 15, 2016 • Reply

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