Independent Evolution of Song Structure and Note Structure in American Wood Warblers
This study addresses the issue of how evolutionary convergence within shared environments shapes some features of bird song while leaving others unaffected, using as an example the songs of 51 North American wood warblers (Parulinae). I combined published information on breeding habitats and evolutionary relationships to show that the structure of warbler songs is correlated with habitat, whereas the structure of the notes that comprise the songs is relatively unaffected by habitat and more closely related to phylogenetic history. The results confirm known relationships between bird song and habitat, including correlations between song frequency and the type and density of canopy foliage, and between the number and arrangement of notes in the song and foliage density and moisture. More importantly, the results suggest that individual notes and whole songs are to some extent functionally independent, because the configuration of notes shows more evidence of evolutionary constraint than does the way notes are assembled into songs.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- May 1997