Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Imitate To Communicate: Even Singers In The Bird World Have To Deal With Cover Artists

Date:
September 10, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Competitors copying songs is an issue that every great singer must face, but now it has been discovered that even birds have to deal with cover artists. New research reveals how some bird species have evolved to sing the same tune as their rivals in order to compete effectively.

Yellow-breasted and Peruvian warbling-antbirds.
Credit: Joseph Tobias

Competitors copying songs is an issue that every great singer must face, but now it has been discovered that even birds have to deal with cover artists. Research, published in the journal Evolution, reveals how some bird species have evolved to sing the same tune as their rivals in order to compete effectively.

A team, led by Dr Joseph Tobias and Dr Nathalie Seddon from the Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford, analysed the calls and songs of two antbird species who live side-by-side in the Amazon rainforest; the Peruvian warbling-antbird and the yellow-breasted warbling-antbird.

The main aim of the study was to investigate their similar songs, and in particular to test the theory that songs can become increasingly similar to enable effective communication between competing species. This notion is controversial as many scientists argue that convergence in territorial or mating signals results in needless confrontation or crossbreeding and the creation of hybrids.

"Biologists have long been fascinated by convergence in ecological traits as it offers tangible evidence of evolution and the forces of selection by which it operates, but until now there is no clear evidence that social competition between animal species can produce convergent signals" said Tobias. "We examined this idea by analysing the structure and function of songs in two birds which we knew to be strong social competitors."

The team studied these species in Peru and Bolivia at one site where they lived together, and two sites where they lived in isolation. First, they recorded three sets of signals; songs, calls, and plumage colour of both species (including a total of 504 songs from 150 individuals). Then, to test the significance of songs of both types, they played them back to individuals of each species.

The results showed that territorial songs of both species were extremely similar particularly where they lived together, such that territorial birds treated songs of both species as equally threatening. Meanwhile, non-territorial signals like calls and plumage were highly divergent.

"In effect, the territorial songs of these birds are more or less interchangeable in design and function" said Tobias. "Given that they last shared a common ancestor more than 3 million years ago, it is almost equivalent to humans and chimpanzees - which diverged around 5 million years ago - using the same language to settle disputes over resources."

"Our results provide the first compelling evidence that social interaction can cause convergent evolution in species competing for space and resources," concluded Tobias."They also suggest that while competition drives convergence in territorial songs, this is offset by divergence in non-competitive signals such as plumage colour to promote species recognition and reduce the chance of interbreeding."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tobias, J.; Nathalie, S. Signal design and perception in Hypocnemis antbirds: evidence for convergent evolution via social selection. Evolution, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00795.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Imitate To Communicate: Even Singers In The Bird World Have To Deal With Cover Artists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908193434.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, September 10). Imitate To Communicate: Even Singers In The Bird World Have To Deal With Cover Artists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908193434.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Imitate To Communicate: Even Singers In The Bird World Have To Deal With Cover Artists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908193434.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. 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:
from the past week

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