From: University of British Columbia
Published September 13, 2017 11:33 AM

New UBC Research Suggests Bird Songs Isolate Species

Two birds that look the same, but have songs so different they can’t recognize each other, should be considered distinct species, suggests new UBC research.

“Songs are important for birds and who they choose to mate with,” said Benjamin Freeman, a Banting postdoctoral fellow in the department of zoology at UBC. “Birds evolve different songs and we wanted to find out which populations are so different in song that they should be considered different species.”

Among the 72 related populations of Central and South American birds the researchers tested, they found evidence for 21 new species.

Organisms that mate and create an offspring that can go on to reproduce are considered to be part of the same species but there are a number of naturally occurring barriers, like geographic location or behaviour, that can prevent similar organisms from mingling. In the study, UBC and Cornell University biologists examined how different populations of birds respond to each other’s songs.

Read more at University of British Columbia

Image: University of British Columbia researchers conducted playback experiments by hanging wireless speakers in the trees and broadcasting songs from related subspecies. (Credit: University of British Columbia)

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