Evolution of white-throated sparrow song: regional variation through shift in terminal strophe type and length

in Behaviour
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We investigated the emergence over time of a novel song variant (doublet-ending song) in a western Canadian sub-population of white-throated sparrows; this variant differs from the species-typical, triplet-ending song. By analysing recent (1999–2014) and historic (1950/1960s) recordings, we show that populations west (British Columbia) and immediately east (Alberta) of the Rockies, and from central Canada (Ontario) initially all had triplet-ending songs. The shift to doublet-ending songs first arose west of the Rockies, and has increased immediately east of the Rockies in the last decade. The Ontario population retained predominantly triplet-ending songs. Note lengths have increased over time in all populations, while inter-strophe interval has decreased, allowing doublet-ending birds the ability to have greater strophe repeats for a given song length. We explore whether the emergence and apparent spread of the doublet-ending songs can be explained by cultural drift, or may be under selection by conveying an advantage during counter-singing.

Evolution of white-throated sparrow song: regional variation through shift in terminal strophe type and length

in Behaviour

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References

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Figures

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    Triplet-ending and doublet-ending songs of male white-throated sparrows from populations in Algonquin Park, ON, Prince George, BC and Hinton, AB.

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    Comparison of the terminal strophe length of male white-throated sparrow songs between populations west of the Rockies, Alberta and Algonquin from historic (1950/1960s) and current (2000/2010s) recordings. Values are means ± 95% Confidence Intervals.

  • View in gallery

    Comparison of the S1 note length in the terminal strophe of male white-throated sparrow songs between populations west of the Rockies, Alberta and Algonquin from historic (1950/1960s) and current (2000/2010s) recordings. Values are means ± 95% Confidence Intervals.

  • View in gallery

    Comparison of the interval between the S1 and S2 notes in the terminal strophe of male white-throated sparrow songs between populations west of the Rockies, Alberta and Algonquin from historic (1950/1960s) and current (2000/2010s) recordings. Values are means ± 95% Confidence Intervals.

  • View in gallery

    Comparison of the inter-strophe interval of the terminal strophes in male white-throated sparrow songs between populations west of the Rockies, Alberta and Algonquin from historic (1950/1960s) and current (2000/2010s) recordings. Values are means ± 95% Confidence Intervals.

  • View in gallery

    Map of recording locations of male white-throated sparrow songs within western (west of the Rockies, Peace and Alberta) and eastern (Algonquin) regional populations. Dots on corners include names of locations; dots within the polygon represent unnamed locations within the region. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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