Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Song diversification and complexity in canaries and seedeaters (Serinus spp.)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:Cardoso, GC, Mota, PGama
Journal:Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Date Published:2007
ISBN Number:1095-8312
Keywords:birdsong, evolutionary diversification, Fringillidae, Serinus, Serinus serinus, sexual selection
Abstract:Bird song is a composite trait that shows great variation in syntax and phonology between taxa, which hampers the precise quantification of complexity. This should be more feasible for closely-related species that share aspects of song organization. We conducted a comparative study of song and syllable characteristics in the largest fringillid genus, Serinus (canaries and seedeaters), with two objectives: (1) to describe and quantify song complexity in the genus and (2) to assess evolutionary dynamics of song, in particular whether interspecific song diversification evolved along intraspecific lines of covariation between syllable characteristics. We document a pattern of intense, very labile evolution of song in the genus. Well-known vocal constraints such as the relationship between frequency and body size did not appear to limit this evolution, and intraspecific trade-offs between different aspects of syllable complexity did not constrain interspecific diversification. Factor analysis returned an axis of variation that comprehensively expresses song complexity in the genus, and is defined by song speed, repertoire size, and also various aspects of syllable phonology. The species body size is not related to this axis of complexity, but to a minor axis that may indicate better respiratory capacity of larger birds. We discuss the pattern of song evolution in Serinus spp. in the context of the evolutionary dynamics of sexually selected traits. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 92, 183–194.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith