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Abstract

Whistled songs of male starlings were studied in Australia and results compared with previous ones in Europe. Starling whistle sonograms can be divided into general classes according to certain criteria. All or most males sing five whistled types (“species-specific” themes), plus other (“individual”) themes. The basic repertoire of species-specific themes is almost the same in Europe and Australia with the same characteristics and similar variation ranges. In both continents each male has a certain number of individual themes, but Australian repertoires tend to be smaller, with two species-specific themes less and fewer individual themes. In all study areas dialects were based on local variations in species-specific theme structure, but the Australian dialectal system is simpler than in Europe. Therefore basic characteristics seem to have been similarly transmitted across generations in both continents. But some of the differences (individual characteristics, repertoire size, frequencies) may stem from different habitat characteristics and also social structure, which could have greatly affected song differentiation.