Navigation Links
Birds that live with varying weather sing more versatile songs
Date:8/3/2012

Durham, NC A new study of North American songbirds reveals that birds that live with fluctuating weather are more flexible singers.

Mixing it up helps birds ensure that their songs are heard no matter what the habitat, say researchers at Australian National University and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

To test the idea, the researchers analyzed song recordings from more than 400 male birds spanning 44 species of North American songbirds a data set that included orioles, blackbirds, warblers, sparrows, cardinals, finches, chickadees and thrushes.

They used computer software to convert each sound recording a medley of whistles, warbles, cheeps, chirps, trills and twitters into a spectrogram, or sound graph. Like a musical score, the complex pattern of lines and streaks in a spectrogram enable scientists to see and visually analyze each snippet of sound.

For each bird in their data set, they measured song characteristics such as length, highest and lowest notes, number of notes, and the spacing between them.

When they combined this data with temperature and precipitation records and other information such as habitat and latitude, they found a surprising pattern males that experience more dramatic seasonal swings between wet and dry sing more variable songs.

"They may sing certain notes really low, or really high, or they may adjust the loudness or tempo," said co-author Clinton Francis of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

The Pyrrhuloxia or desert cardinal from the American southwest and northern Mexico and Lawrence's goldfinch from California are two examples.

In addition to variation in weather across the seasons, the researchers also looked at geographic variation and found a similar pattern. Namely, species that experience more extreme differences in precipitation from one location to the next across their range sing more complex tunes. House finches and plumbeous vireos are two examples, Francis said.

Why might this be?

"Precipitation is closely related to how densely vegetated the habitat is," said co-author Iliana Medina of Australian National University. Changing vegetation means changing acoustic conditions.

"Sound transmits differently through different vegetation types," Francis explained. "Often when birds arrive at their breeding grounds in the spring, for example, there are hardly any leaves on the trees. Over the course of just a couple of weeks, the sound transmission changes drastically as the leaves come in."

"Birds that have more flexibility in their songs may be better able to cope with the different acoustic environments they experience throughout the year," Medina added.

A separate team reported similar links between environment and birdsong in mockingbirds in 2009, but this is the first study to show that the pattern holds up across dozens of species.

Interestingly, Francis and Medina found that species with striking color differences between males and females also sing more variable songs, which means that environmental variation isn't the only factor, the researchers say.


'/>"/>
Contact: Robin Ann Smith
rsmith@nescent.org
919-668-4544
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
2. Not just for the birds: Man-made noise has ripple effects on plants, too
3. UCSB researchers find that less is more, for female cowbirds
4. Hitch-hiking with birds for life
5. Songbirds learning hub in brain offers insight into motor control
6. Scientists find that rain may not always be a welcome thing to waterbirds
7. Restoring streamside forests helps songbirds survive the winter in Californias Central Valley
8. Better looking birds have more help at home with their chicks
9. Seabirds study shows plastic pollution reaching surprising levels off coast of Pacific Northwest
10. Helping family is key for social birds
11. Fossil egg discovered in Lleida (Spain) links dinosaurs to modern birds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... GARDENS, Fla. , April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... management and secure authentication solutions, today announced that ... by Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to ... IARPA,s Thor program. "Innovation has been ... and IARPA,s Thor program will allow us to ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... LONDON , April 6, 2017 ... Control, RFID, ANPR, Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & ... Energy Facility, Oil, Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear ... Healthcare, Educational, Other) Are you looking for ... Authentication sector? ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... , April 4, 2017   EyeLock LLC , ... that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ... covers the linking of an iris image with a ... and represents the company,s 45 th issued patent. ... is very timely given the multi-modal biometric capabilities that ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... 2017  BioTech Holdings announced today identification and ... ProCell stem cell therapy prevents limb loss in ... demonstrated that treatment with ProCell resulted in more ... compared to standard bone marrow stem cell administration.  ... reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ARCS® Foundation ... Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of ... Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® System which uses the surface electromyography ... generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface electromyography (sEMG). The prospective multicenter phase ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... launched its ProxiMeta™ Hi-C metagenome deconvolution product, featuring the first commercially available ... bioinformatics software to perform Hi-C metagenome deconvolution using their own facilities, supplementing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: