Evol Ecol Res 14: 95-112 (2012)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Patterns of vocal divergence in a group of non-oscine birds (auklets; Alcidae, Charadriiformes)

Sampath S. Seneviratne1,2, Ian L. Jones1 and Steven M. Carr1

1Department of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada and 2Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Correspondence: S.S. Seneviratne, Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
e-mail: sampath@zoology.ubc.ca


Question: Are phylogenetic relationships the major determinant of vocal relationships in non-oscine birds (birds that do not have a learning component in the vocalization)?

Background: Both environmental variables and phylogenetic affinities can affect vocalizations. Unlearned vocalizations are characteristics of most non-oscine bird families, which have a relatively less-complex syrinx and vocalizations.

Organism: A monophyletic group of underground-nesting seabirds (auklets: Aethiini, Alcidae, Charadriiformes) from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA.

Methods: We mapped vocal characters (28 acoustic and 10 syringeal) from total repertoires of all members of the tribe Aethiini onto a molecular phylogeny to compare the relative influence of phylogeny and breeding habitat on vocal divergence.

Conclusion: Phylogeny, visual display, and ecological factors have contributed to vocal divergence in this clade. Temporal attributes and syringeal attributes of the acoustics of vocalization showed high congruence with phylogeny. Frequency attributes, which are affected by environmental variables, showed low congruence, and therefore high homoplasy.

Keywords: Alcidae, auklets, character reconstruction, display evolution, non-oscine birds, phylogeny, vocalization.

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