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Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years

The six lineages of the eastern double-collared sunbird are found on isolated mountains (black) across East Africa. Many of the populations have been isolated from one another for hundreds of thousands of years, though not all have changed much in terms of plumage or song. Credit: University of California – Berkeley

many of the birds that awaken us each morning learn their melodious songs the lapp room that humans learn a dialect—from parents and neighbors.

But to most biologists, learning songs through apery is an uncertain and erring process, resulting in slowly but inevitable change in song over the years .
A new study by biologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Missouri State University in Springfield, however, documents songs in east african sunbirds that have remained about unchanged for more than 500,000 years, and possibly for equally retentive as 1 million years, making the songs about indistinguishable from those of relatives from which they ‘ve hanker been separated.

The amazingly static nature of their songs may be due to a lack of switch in these birds ‘ environments, which are stable batch forests—so-called flip islands—isolated from other flip island populations of the same or alike species for tens of thousands to millions of years. The coloration of the birds ‘ feathers has changed small, as well, making their feather about indistinguishable from each other, even though some are branch, but close associate, species .
“ If you isolate humans, their dialects quite frequently change ; you can tell after a while where person comes from. And song has been interpreted in that lapp way, ” said senior writer Rauri Bowie, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and a curator in the campus ‘s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. “ What our wallpaper shows is that it ‘s not necessarily the case for birds. even in traits that should be identical labile, such as song or feather, you can have long periods of stasis. ”

Sky-island populations of East African double-collared sunbirds have been isolated from one another for hundreds of thousands if not a million years, but still look very similar. While almost indistinguishable in plumage, however, some of these bird lineages have altered their songs a lot while others have not — their songs differ little from the songs of related populations they’ve not encountered for millennia. Credit: Video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Alan Toth; audio courtesy of Jay McEntee
Bowie said that the idea that bird birdcall promptly changes probably arise from studies of Northern Hemisphere birds, which have encountered changing environmental conditions repeatedly, with glaciers coming and going over the last tens of thousands of years. Changing environments induce changes in feather, bird song, mating behavior and much more .
But mountaintop environments in the tropics, particularly in Eastern Africa—from Mt. Kenya to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania south through Malawi into Mozambique—have seen little geological change over that same time period. Hence, the birds the researchers studied—lineages of the easterly double-collared sunbirds in the genus Cinnyris—had no drift to alter either their colorful feather or their much intricate songs .

“ For sociable signals like birdcall, or bright feather colors, to take another exemplar in birds, evolutionary biologists have focused a great hand on how the signals seem to be able to evolve promptly and in pretty random directions, ” said first author Jay McEntee, an assistant professor of biology at Missouri State. “ The result from our work—that there can be long periods without much switch for erudite song—suggests we should be asking which forces can constrain these social signals over time, in addition to asking which forces induce changes. ”
According to Bowie, biologists recognize two types of barriers to mating that tend to generate new species of animals. Pre-mating barriers are signals that stop an individual from mating with another. In birds, this could be because it does n’t sing the right birdcall or does n’t look the lapp as the other boo, but if the two did copulate, they could produce offspring. Post-mating barriers are actual mechanistic generative incompatibilities, such that they do n’t produce offspring, even if they mate .
Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years

Lesser double-collared sunbirds are related to the eastern double-collared sunbirds — so-called sky island sunbirds — that Berkeley researchers studied to understand how bird song changes over tens of thousands of years. Credit: Keith Barnes

“ sung is thought to be one of the most important pre-mating isolation barriers, one of the key ways that birds tell each other apart, ” he said. “ That a learn trait can remain inactive for hundreds to thousands of years is just remarkable, a discovery that reflects how much the sphere study of tropical systems has to offer the scientific community and curious perceiver. ”
McEntee, Bowie and their colleagues in Africa, Europe and the U.S. published their findings last November in the diary Proceedings of the Royal Society B .
Sky island sunbirds
Sunbirds are the most diverse and among the most colorful groups of birds in Africa and Asia, filling a niche—sipping nectar—occupied by hummingbirds in the Americas, though they are unrelated to hummingbirds. many have curved beaks that allow them to dip deeply into recurved flowers. Bowie calls them “ the short jewels that appear before you. ”

Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years

Orange-breasted sunbirds are endemic to the shrublands, or fynbos, of southwestern South Africa. Credit: Keith Barnes

Among these wide-ranging birds are species that have become isolated on the tops of high mountains, therefore the term “ sky island sunbirds. ” Bowie, a native of South Africa, has long been intrigued by these birds—for his Ph.D. thesis, he showed that what people once thought were two species of eastern double-collared sunbird distributed over numerous mountaintops in East Africa were actually at least five species and possibly six. While they look very similar, they are deeply divergent genetically, suggesting a long period of isolation on different mountaintops where they are now recognized as different species .
He began to wonder, however, if their songs had remained deoxyadenosine monophosphate unchanged as their feather. McEntee pursued that wonder as a doctoral scholar with Bowie, visiting 15—nearly all—of the flip islands in East Africa between 2007 and 2011 and recording songs from 123 individual birds from the six different lineages of eastern double-collared sunbirds. The sky island populations of these sunbirds are ideal for exploring the evolution of sung, since the isolated populations allowed comparison within individual species, between two close relate species, and among all five species, he said .
The researchers developed a statistical technique for distinguishing between gradual switch and bursts of rapid change in a trait such as birdcall and discovered that song differences seemed uncorrelated with how farseeing individual populations had been separated, as estimated from genic differences in their deoxyribonucleic acid. Two populations of long-separated species had about identical songs, while two early similar-looking species that had been separated for less time had widely divergent songs .
“ What surprised me the most in carrying out this research was how exchangeable these teach songs of disjunct populations were, within species, and how obvious the sung differences were where they occur, ” McEntee said. “ The beginning clock ( tanzanian co-author ) Maneno Mbilinyi and I were making a healthy commemorate of Cinnyris fuelleborni, what we call Fuelleborn ‘s sunbird, we thought there must be a unlike boo nearby that was singing simultaneously, because the song we were listening to did n’t make sense to us. We were looking immediately at the singing boo, watching it move its beak, and could n’t believe just how unlike its song was from the truly similar- looking Moreau ‘s sunbird, Cinnyris moreaui, which we had just been recording in a different separate of the Udzungwa Mountains. ”
Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years

Sonograms (right) of representative calls of the six lineages of eastern double-collared sunbirds. Those lineages are shown (left) with their family tree, which indicates a major divergence in song more than 2.7 million years ago. Despite looking nearly identical, these lineages represent five and perhaps six distinct species. Credit: University of California – Berkeley

On the other hired hand, the songs of Cinnyris fuelleborni from populations in Ikokoto in Tanzania and Namuli in Mozambique are about identical, despite being separated by hundreds of kilometers and hundreds of thousands of years .
Based on this analyze, the biologists argue that characteristics such as learned song and feather do n’t inescapably drift in disjunct populations, but that they evolve in pulses, punctuated by retentive periods, possibly hundreds of thousands of years, of little change .
“ We are showing, using a in truth nice setup where we could look at song evolution using naturally isolated populations, that you do n’t see this gradual variety through cultural or genic drift at all, ” Bowie said. “ You see these sharp bursts of exchange in a trait such a birdcall and lots and lots of tell for stasis, even when that trait should be very fictile. To me, that was a actually capture solution. ”
The researchers are continuing their inquiry in East Africa to determine what drives some birds to alter their songs, but not others. Bowie and UC Berkeley professors Jim McGuire and Robert Dudley are part of a $ 2 million concede from the National Science Foundation to understand the genetic and physiologic causes of the convergent evolution that makes sunbirds and hummingbirds so exchangeable in looks and ecological recess .
Can you distinguish these bird songs?
Listen to the songs of these close related east african sky-island sunbirds from the genus Nectarinia : N. moreaui from the area of Selebu, N. fuelleborni from the region of Kihulula, N. loveridgei, N. mediocris from Kenya, N. mediocris from Mt. Kilimanjaro, and N. usambarica from Mazumbai .
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New research suggests bird songs isolate species
More information:
Jay P. McEntee et al, Punctuated evolution in the learned songs of African sunbirds, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2021). Journal information:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Jay P. McEntee et aluminum, Punctuated development in the memorize songs of african sunbirds, ( 2021 ). department of the interior : 10.1098/rspb.2021.2062 Citation : Some birds sing the same song for hundreds of thousands of years ( 2022, January 13 ) retrieved 15 January 2022 from hypertext transfer protocol : //songdownloadmp3free.com/news/2022-01-birds-song-hundreds-thousands-years.html
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