Anthropogenic noise in urban environments is a major challenge for those species that depend on the transmission of acoustic signals to communicate. To avoid being masked by background noise, some bird species are able to make adjustments in their songs. Studies on vocal adjustment for tropical birds are still scarce and are of interest since both the urban structure and the vegetation associated with urban habitats differ significantly with respect to the cities of temperate climates. In this research we studied the changes in the song parameters of the pale-breasted thrush (Turdus leucomelas) in an urban environment of the metropolitan area of Belém (Brazil). To this end, bird songs were recorded and ambient noise was measured between September and November 2008, in three different acoustic environments (urban, suburban and rural) along an urban gradient. The songs of 12 individuals per area were selected (a total of 36). Possible differences between song parameters were analyzed by ANOVAs. To assess the noise impact on bird song, we only considered the spectrum of environmental noise within the range of vocalizations of the species. In general, birds of urban habitats presented songs with higher maximum frequencies and with a wider range of notes, than their counterparts in suburban and rural areas. The differences were more pronounced in relation to rural areas. No differences in the minimum frequencies, the concentration of energy, or the average duration of the notes were found. These results differ from other studies and could possibly indicate variations in the way birds try to succeed in habitats with high ambient noise. It is necessary further exploration on the role of these changes in the effective improvement of intra-specific communication for the species in such environments.
Keywords: anthropogenic noise, bioacoustics, bird song, urban gradient, vocal adjustment