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Song evolution in the coal tit Parus ater

Authors

  • Dieter Thomas Tietze,

  • Jochen Martens,

  • Yue-Hua Sun,

  • Lucia Liu Severinghaus,

  • Martin Päckert


D. Thomas Tietze (mail@dieterthomastietze.de), Institut für Zool., Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, DE-55099 Mainz, Germany; Mus. für Tierkunde Dresden, Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden, Königsbrücker Landstraße 159, DE-01109 Dresden, Germany; Dept of Ecol. and Evol., Univ. of Chicago, 1101 East 57th Str., Chicago, IL 60637, USA. – J. Martens, Inst. für Zoologie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, 55099 Mainz, Germany. – DTT also at: Dept of Ecol. and Evol., Univ. of Chicago, 1101 East 57th Str., Chicago, IL 60637, USA. − M. Päckert, Mus. für Tierkunde Dresden, Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden, Königsbrücker Landstraße 159, DE-01109 Dresden, Germany. − Y.-H. Sun, Inst. of Zool., Chinese Acad. of Sci., CN-100080 Beijing, People's Republic of China. − L. Liu Severinghaus, Res. Center for Biodiv., Academia Sinica, TW-115 Taipei, Taiwan.

Abstract

Since in oscine birds song divergence often leads to premating reproductive isolation, we asked which factors drive the evolution of song in a widespread species, the coal tit Parus ater. Based on an almost taxon-complete phylogeny we correlated song divergence with morphometric (ecology), genetic (time), and geographic distances (separation). We found eight well-supported mitochondrial lineages, one of which consists of melanolophus (usually treated as a separate species) and whose relationships remain generally unresolved. Due to intense song variability even sophisticated sonametric analyses failed to separate sub-specific units. We tested for the role of song in reproductive isolation by playing songs from China and the Himalayas to Central European males. They recognize them as conspecific, but react to their playbacks less aggressively than to local songs. While morphological divergence is correlated with neither time nor separation, song divergence coincides more with geographic than genetic distance. This is mainly driven by differences along longitude and is especially prominent in the southern part of the species’ range, where six lineages persisted during the last glaciation while the north was subsequently re-occupied by two lineages.

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