A system for describing bird song units

Nicholas S. Thompson, Kerry LeDoux, Kevin Moody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Bird song researchers have not agreed on a common set of units of analysis by which birds’ songs of various different species might be described. Analysis of 50 papers reveals 28 unit designations and considerable variation in their application despite only three different methods for identifying units. The lack of consensus on units arises from the fact that units generated by the same methods at different levels of organization are given different names. A method for designating bird song units is offered for discussion which uses the concept of level of organization to stress the fundamental unanimity of method. It is hoped that consideration of this method will lead ultimately to greater standardization in the protocols by which researchers generate and name bird song units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-279
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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