Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Galapagos Finches Sing Different Mating Songs Due To Evolutionary Diversification Of Beaks, Says Umass Biologist

Date:
January 16, 2001
Source:
University Of Massachusetts At Amherst
Summary:
An evolutionary biologist at the University of Massachusetts has presented new evidence that the different courting songs sung by the famous Darwin's finches of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, may be shaped by the evolutionary diversification of their beaks

Amherst, MA -- An evolutionary biologist at the University of Massachusetts has presented new evidence that the different courting songs sung by the famous Darwin's finches of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, may be shaped by the evolutionary diversification of their beaks. Jeffrey Podos details his findings in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Nature. A portion of the research was conducted during his postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona, and the work was funded by the University of Arizona and the National Science Foundation.

Related Articles


Darwin's finches are a textbook example of what scientists call "adaptive radiation," in which a group of closely related species diversifies to exploit a wide range of habitats, Podos says. "As ancestral populations of Darwin's finches occupied different islands, their beaks evolved, through natural selection, to best take advantage of available food sources. These food sources are diverse across the Galapagos Archipelago, and the finches have evolved an impressive array of beaks." Finches that live in the Galapagos lowlands, for example, have evolved large beaks, which are useful in cracking open the hard seeds that make up their diet. By contrast, smaller finches living in forested areas have evolved thin, agile beaks that enable them to probe for insects.

Podos has focused his research on bioacoustics and the evolution of vocal behavior in songbirds. He became interested in the songs of Darwin's finches during earlier research on songbirds and how they produce sound. Recent studies have revealed that the trachea and beak play a significant role in sound production, specifically in filtering out harmonic impurities of sounds produced by the syrinx, songbirds' primary vocal organ. Songbirds use body movements, including beak opening and closing, to track changes in note frequency, much as a trombone player does when sliding along different horn lengths.

In this most recent study, Podos hypothesized that variation in beaks among Darwin's finches would shape their ability to sing: "Birds with large beaks are in essence playing cumbersome musical instruments, while birds with smaller beaks, by comparison, should be more proficient as musicians," Podos says. This prediction was borne out in the data: birds with smaller beaks sing quicker songs, with a wider range of tones.

In addition to providing insights into vocal mechanics, this finding has implications for speciation - the evolutionary process by which one species splits into two or more distinct species. "As finch populations adapt to different environments, songs should evolve in step with beak evolution," says Podos. Because songs are used by females in choosing mates, the diversification of these mating signals may promote speciation.

Charles Darwin explored the animals and plants of the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s, and based on his observations, was the first scientist to suggest that species evolve and diversify from common ancestors. The Galapagos finches have since remained a renowned study system, providing insights into diverse evolutionary phenomena such as natural selection and speciation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. "Galapagos Finches Sing Different Mating Songs Due To Evolutionary Diversification Of Beaks, Says Umass Biologist." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111074902.htm>.
University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. (2001, January 16). Galapagos Finches Sing Different Mating Songs Due To Evolutionary Diversification Of Beaks, Says Umass Biologist. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111074902.htm
University Of Massachusetts At Amherst. "Galapagos Finches Sing Different Mating Songs Due To Evolutionary Diversification Of Beaks, Says Umass Biologist." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111074902.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins