Navigation Links
Songbirds tweak their tunes in different ways to cope with clamor
Date:5/26/2011

AUDIO: Listen to a plumbeous vireo singing in a quiet area. This was recorded by lead author Clinton Francis of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

Click here for more information.

Durham, NC Some birds that live near noisy sites can alter their songs to deal with din. But closely related species with similar songs may tweak their tunes in different ways, says a new study led by Clinton Francis of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC.

The study is part of a growing field that looks at noise pollution and its effects on wildlife. Honking horns, blaring sirens, and roaring machinery are particularly problematic for birds, Francis said.

Birds rely on songs to defend their territories and attract a mate. "When something interferes with their ability to hear each others' songs, it can lead to a communication breakdown," Francis explained. Noise can drown out other sounds in the environment too, like approaching predators, he added.

While some birds can cope with noise by altering their songs, less flexible birds may have to abandon noisy areas altogether. Can we predict which species will be able to adjust their songs, and which will be forced to flee?

Scientists would like to be able to predict which species will be most threatened by an increasingly noisy world, Francis said. To do that, it helps to know if closely related species respond similarly to noise.

AUDIO: Now listen to a plumbeous vireo singing near industrial-grade noise from a natural gas extraction site. This was recorded by lead author Clinton Francis of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center....

Click here for more information.

To find out, Francis and his colleagues surveyed two closely related species with similar songs the grey vireo and the plumbeous vireo both living near natural gas extraction sites in the Bureau of Land Management's Rattlesnake Canyon Wildlife Area in northern New Mexico.

Since 2005, Francis has studied the effects of industrial-grade noise from natural gas wells on songbirds. The advantage of studying these sites, Francis notes, is they offer plenty of noise without the confounding factors that plague noise studies near roadways, such as pollution and collisions.

Some gas wells are coupled with noisy compressors that extract the gas and transport it through pipelines. The compressors roar and rumble day and night, 365 days a year at greater than 95 decibels a noise level comparable to a motorcycle less than 50 feet away. "You need hearing protection if you're next to them," Francis said.

The researchers counted and recorded plumbeous vireos and grey vireos living near natural gas wells with noisy compressors. They then compared this data with song and survey data they collected from quiet wells without compressors. The results, published this week in Biology Letters, showed the two species are just as common in noisy sites as quiet ones, but they alter their songs in different ways.

Each vireo's song is a short whistled phrase with multiple notes, like a musical score, Francis explained. "Plumbeous vireos raised the pitch of the lowest part of their song, while grey vireos raised the pitch of the highest part of their song," Francis said.

Singing higher-pitched songs may make them easier to hear above the low frequencies typical of human-made noise, he added.

Both birds also changed the length of their songs, but in opposite ways. Whereas plumbeous vireo songs got shorter with increased background noise, grey vireo songs grew longer. "Grey vireo songs in noisy sites were nearly one and a half times as long as their counterparts in quiet sites," Francis said.

The results back up other studies showing some birds can cope with noise by altering their songs. But given the different modifications made by closely related species, it may be difficult to predict what these altered songs will sound like in diverse bird communities, Francis said.

"Closely related species may use different strategies to deal with noise," he said.

The researchers report their findings in the May 25 issue of Biology Letters.


'/>"/>

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

Related biology news :

1. Tweeting teenage songbirds reveal impact of social cues on learning
2. Transgenic songbirds provide new tool to understand the brain
3. Beavers: Dam good for songbirds
4. Syracuse University scientists discover new hitch to link nerve cell motors to their cargo
5. Discovery of DNA silencing mechanism reveals how plants protect their genome
6. Seals sense shapes using their whiskers to feel wakes
7. JAMIA reports on people, their information needs and social networks
8. Succulent plants waited for cool, dry Earth to make their mark
9. New mothers can learn a lot from watching their babies
10. Scientists can track origin of shark fins using zip codes in their DNA
11. Too many relatives ruining your picnic? Be glad the flies dont invite their cousins
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Songbirds tweak their tunes in different ways to cope with clamor
(Date:6/2/2016)... June 2, 2016 The Department of ... awarded the 44 million US Dollar project, for the ... Plates including Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , ... the production and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned ... Decatur was selected for the most ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by providing unparalleled technology to leaders ... is the latest premium product recently added to the range of products distributed by ... ... ... LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... 9, 2016 Elevay is currently ... expanding freedom for high net worth professionals seeking travel ... globally connected world, there is still no substitute for ... duplicate sealing your deal with a firm handshake. This ... taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs like those ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of the leading ... UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been manufacturing high ... its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores as Whole ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed a ... serve as their official health care provider. As ... provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and most ... athletes and families. "We are excited ... to bring Houston Methodist quality services and programs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering ... debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing ... advance its drug development efforts, as well as purchase ... "SVB has been an incredible strategic partner to us ... bank would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis ... Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 ... single and multiple ascending dose studies designed to ... (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... (SC) either as a single dose (ranging from ...
Breaking Biology Technology: