Geographic variation in vocalizations is widespread in passerine birds, but its origins and maintenance remain unclear. One hypothesis to explain this variation is that it is associated with geographic isolation among populations and therefore should follow a vicariant pattern similar to that typically found in neutral genetic markers. Alternatively, if environmental selection strongly influences vocalizations, then genetic divergence and vocal divergence may be disassociated. This study compared genetic divergence derived from 11 microsatellite markers with a metric of phenotypic divergence derived from male bower advertisement calls. Data were obtained from 16 populations throughout the entire distribution of the satin bowerbird, an Australian wet-forest-restricted passerine. There was no relationship between call divergence and genetic divergence, similar to most other studies on birds with learned vocalizations. Genetic divergence followed a vicariant model of evolution, with the differentiation of isolated populations and isolation-by-distance among continuous populations. Previous work on Ptilonorhynchus violaceus has shown that advertisement call structure is strongly influenced by the acoustic environment of different habitats. Divergence in vocalizations among genetically related populations in different habitats indicates that satin bowerbirds match their vocalizations to the environment in which they live, despite the homogenizing influence of gene flow. In combination with convergence of vocalizations among genetically divergent populations occurring in the same habitat, this shows the overriding importance that habitat-related selection can have on the establishment and maintenance of variation in vocalizations.
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