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Tuesday, January 30 • 1:20pm - 1:40pm
FOREST & GRASSLAND SONGBIRDS: Geographic Variation in Songs of the Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea)

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AUTHORS. Garrett J. MacDonald, Kamal Islam - Ball State University

ABSTRACT. The Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea) is one of the fastest declining North American wood-warblers (family Parulidae) based on data from the Breeding Bird Survey. The species was petitioned and subsequently denied listing under the Endangered Species Act in the early 2000’s, and since then, its ecology has been well studied in several parts of its breeding range. One aspect that has received relatively little attention, however, is the species’ singing behavior, and specifically, the potential for the existence of regional song dialects. Dialects, broad-scale geographic patterns of unique singing, are informative about patterns of population connectivity and dispersal, and since birdsong functions in courtship and territoriality, it has the potential to promote speciation by acting as a pre-mating isolating mechanism. We examined geographic variation in songs of the Cerulean Warbler by measuring spectral and temporal characteristics of songs from >100individuals in 21 states and provinces in the breeding range. Recordings were obtained from the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, and Xeno-Canto, and we also used some of our own recordings and those of collaborators. Sonograms were created and acoustic measurements were performed in Raven Pro 1.5. Acoustic parameters measured included minimum and maximum frequencies (kHz) for the first, second, and third sections of song and the entire song; frequency range for the first, second, and third sections of song and the entire song; number of syllable types within the first and second sections of song and within the entire song; total number of syllables per song; and total length of time per song. This is the first study to examine if song dialects exist in this species. This work could have important implications for the management and conservation of the Cerulean Warbler, and could necessitate vocally distinct populations to be managed separately.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 1:20pm - 1:40pm CST