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Sky island bird populations isolated by ancient genetic barriers are characterized by different song traits than those isolated by recent deforestation

Purushotham, Chetana B and Robin, VV (2016) Sky island bird populations isolated by ancient genetic barriers are characterized by different song traits than those isolated by recent deforestation. In: ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 6 (20). pp. 7334-7343.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2475


Various mechanisms of isolation can structure populations and result in cultural and genetic differentiation. Similar to genetic markers, for songbirds, culturally transmitted sexual signals such as breeding song can be used as a measure of differentiation as songs can also be impacted by geographic isolation resulting in population-level differences in song structure. Several studies have found differences in song structure either across ancient geographic barriers or across contemporary habitat barriers owing to deforestation. However, very few studies have examined the effect of both ancient barriers and recent deforestation in the same system. In this study, we examined the geographic variation in song structure across six populations of the White-bellied Shortwing, a threatened and endemic songbird species complex found on isolated mountaintops or ``sky islands'' of the Western Ghats. While some sky islands in the system are isolated by ancient valleys, others are separated by deforestation. We examined 14 frequency and temporal spectral traits and two syntax traits from 835 songs of 38 individuals across the six populations. We identified three major song clusters based on a discriminant model of spectral traits, degree of similarity of syntax features, as well as responses of birds to opportunistic playback. However, some traits like complex vocal mechanisms (CVM), relating to the use of syrinxes, clearly differentiated both ancient and recently fragmented populations. We suggest that CVMs may have a cultural basis and can be used to identify culturally isolated populations that cannot be differentiated using genetic markers or commonly used frequency-based song traits. Our results demonstrate the use of bird songs to reconstruct phylogenetic groups and impacts of habitat fragmentation even in complex scenarios of historic and contemporary isolation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the WILEY-BLACKWELL, 111 RIVER ST, HOBOKEN 07030-5774, NJ USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Biochemistry
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2016 05:18
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2018 07:56
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/55474

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