August 23, 2010
A team of researchers has found that chestnut-sided warblers possess two distinct cultural traditions in song variants that evolve independently - one, used for territorial disputes that changes frequently, and another, used for romance that relies on a small unchanging sampling of classics. The findings suggest songbird culture is more complex than previously thought, the scientists say. The paper will be published in the journal The American Naturalist.
The research team includes Bruce Byers, associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Kara Belinsky, former doctoral student at UMass Amherst now doing postdoctoral research at Texas Tech University, and Alex Bentley of Durham University in England.