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25 January 2021 Female and male song exhibit both parallel and divergent patterns of cultural evolution: A long-term study of song structure and diversity in tropical wrens
Brendan A. Graham, Daniel D. Heath, Daniel J. Mennill
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Abstract

Animal culture changes over time through processes that include drift, immigration, selection, and innovation. Cultural change has been particularly well-studied for animal vocalizations, especially for the vocalizations of male animals in the temperate zone. Here we examine the cultural change in the vocalizations of tropical Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryophilus rufalbus), quantifying temporal variation in song structure, song type diversity, and population-level distribution of song types in both males and females. We use data from 10 microsatellite loci to quantify patterns of immigration and neutral genetic differentiation over time, to investigate whether cultural diversity changes with rates of immigration. Based on 11 yr of data, we show that the spectro-temporal features of several widely-used persistent song types maintain a relatively high level of consistency for both males and females, whereas the distribution and frequency of particular song types change over time for both sexes. Males and females exhibit comparable levels of cultural diversity (i.e. the diversity of song types across the population), although females exhibit greater rates of cultural change over time. We found that female changes in cultural diversity increased when immigration is high, whereas male cultural diversity did not change with immigration. Our study is the first long-term study to explore cultural evolution for both male and female birds and suggests that cultural patterns exhibit notable differences between the sexes.

LAY SUMMARY

  • Animal culture changes over time, and here we present the first long-term study to explore cultural evolution for both male and female birds.

  • To study animal culture, we recorded the songs of male and female Rufous-and-white Wrens living in Guanacaste, Costa Rica over an 11 yr period.

  • We show that the structure of several widely-used persistent song types maintain a high level of consistency for both males and females, whereas the distribution and frequency of particular song types change over time for both sexes.

  • Males and females exhibit comparable levels of cultural diversity, although females exhibit greater rates of cultural change over time.

  • We collected genetic samples to measure immigration, and we found female cultural diversity increases when immigration is high, whereas male cultural diversity does not change with immigration.

  • Our results suggest that cultural patterns exhibit some similarities, and some notable differences, between the sexes.

Copyright © American Ornithological Society 2021. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
Brendan A. Graham, Daniel D. Heath, and Daniel J. Mennill "Female and male song exhibit both parallel and divergent patterns of cultural evolution: A long-term study of song structure and diversity in tropical wrens," Ornithology 138(1), 1-16, (25 January 2021). https://doi.org/10.1093/ornithology/ukaa067
Received: 28 January 2020; Accepted: 8 October 2020; Published: 25 January 2021
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