Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Noisy Environments Make Young Songbirds Shuffle Their Tunes: Baby Songbirds Shape Their Species' Playlist



ScienceDaily (June 19, 2012) — iPod owners aren't the only ones who frequently shuffle their favorite tunes. Baby songbirds do it, too, a new study shows.

A baby songbird prefers to learn the clearest versions of songs he hears and uses them to build his personal playlist for life. As a result, noise, from nature and humans, influences which songs a bird learns to sing and can create lasting changes to his species' top tunes, the study's results suggest.

"There's been an enormous amount of interest in how anthropogenic factors affect the channels animals use for communication and in particular how human noise affects birdsong," said Duke biologist and study co-author Steve Nowicki. "As far as we know, this is the first study that can link noise to cultural evolution of bird song."

The team designed the study to test a 30-year-old hypothesis suggesting that young birds memorize and later sing the clearest songs they hear during their critical learning period. In the experiment, Nowicki and his collaborators collected nine male, swamp-sparrow nestlings and hand-raised them in a soundproof room.


Read on:
  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120619225943.htm

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