Researcher has found a link between bird songs and habitat change

Jun 12, 2009

Elizabeth Derryberry, post-doctoral researcher at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, has found a link between alterations in bird songs and the rapid change in the surrounding habitat. Her research will be featured in the July 2009 issue of the American Naturalist.

Derryberry, a behavioral ecologist, has studied this phenomenon since her time as a graduate student at Duke University, where she discovered tapes from ornithologist Luis Baptista. On these tapes, which had been recorded in the 1970s, she quickly noticed that the were singing quite a different tune than those happening right outside her door.

"I was really surprised to find that songs had changed in a similar way in so many different populations," said Derryberry.

Using aerial photographs to map the vegetation and habitat changes that took place between 1970 and 2005, when she began the research, Derryberry was able to determine that in places where plant growth had increased, bird songs were slowing down.

"This is likely due to the birds' avoidance of sound reverberation," said Derryberry. "Because California has steadily increased vegetation in areas that had previously been cleared, the birds slowed the frequency and tempo of their songs in order to avoid reverberation distorting their mating song."

While California has experienced a re-greening of sorts, many South American countries, many of which are important habitats for rare and endangered species of birds, are experiencing severe deforestation. Derryberry is now studying the effects habitat on song in species in South America, where widespread habitat destruction and global climate change may affect song evolution.

Source: Louisiana State University (news : web)

Explore further: Hermit creepy crawlies: Two new taxa of wood-feeding cockroach from China

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bird songs change with environment

May 20, 2009

Just as a changing radio landscape has made it tough for Foghat to get much airplay these days, so it is for birdsongs according to new research published in The American Naturalist.

Birds communicate reproductive success in song

Jun 18, 2008

Some migratory songbirds figure out the best place to live by eavesdropping on the singing of others that successfully have had baby birds – a communication and behavioral trait so strong that researchers playing recorded ...

Cities change the songs of birds

Dec 04, 2006

By studying the songs of a bird species that has succeeded in adapting to urban life, researchers have gained insight into the kinds of environmental pressures that influence where particular songbirds thrive, and the specific ...

Recommended for you

A vegetarian carnivorous plant

21 hours ago

Carnivorous plants catch and digest tiny animals in order and derive benefits for their nutrition. Interestingly the trend towards vegetarianism seems to overcome carnivorous plants as well. The aquatic carnivorous bladderwort, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.