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  1. Abstract

    Vocal signals mediate social relationships, and among networks of territorial animals, information is often shared via broadcast vocalizations. Anthropogenic noise may disrupt communication among individuals within networks, as animals change the way they vocalize in noise. Furthermore, constraints on signal transmission, including frequency masking and distance, may affect information exchange following a disruption in social networks. We tested the hypothesis that signaling interactions within networks of breeding male and female house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) depend on distance, ambient noise, and receiver nesting stage. We used playback experiments to simulate territorial intrusions with and without noise playbacks on the territories of established males and simultaneously recorded the vocal responses of neighbors. To examine whether intrusions impacted interactions between males, we used randomization tests to determine whether treatment, distance, noise, or nesting stage affected vocal coordination between challenged and neighboring males. We also quantified singing patterns to explore whether intrusions on territories of challenged males affected singing by males and females on neighboring territories. Males sang at the lowest rates and were less likely to overlap songs with the challenged male when their partner was laying, compared to males during early and late nesting stages. Noise and distance did not affect vocal coordination or male singing rates. Fewer females sang during the intruder‐only treatment compared to the control and intrusions with noise. Added noise in the territories of challenged males may have masked signals, and as a result, females only changed their behavior during the intruder‐only treatment. Our results suggest that the fertility of breeding partners may be more important to males than short‐term changes on rival male territories. Elevated noise did little to alter male responses to threats within networks. Females appeared to eavesdrop on interactions involving neighboring males, but noise may have prevented detection of their interactions.

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