Although some comparative studies of oscine songbirds have found that long-distance migration is positively correlated with elaborate songs, an analysis of singing by species in the genus Geothlypis (Parulidae) found no evidence of such a correlation. The migratory species in the genus sing relatively simple songs, whereas the singing of nonmigratory species varies; some species have simple songs, and others have more elaborate songs. Elaborate songs are found in the nonmigratory species G. semiflava, G. aequinoctialis, and G. poliocephala. For example, in Costa Rican populations of these species, songs are longer, contain more notes, have greater note-type diversity, and (in G. semiflava and G. aequinoctialis) have more phrase types than the songs of the migratory Geothlypis species. However, in other nonmigratory species (G. nelsoni, G. flavovelata, G. speciosa, and G. rostrata), the duration, note count, and note-type diversity of songs are similar to those of the migratory species. Thus, there seems to be no consistent relationship between migration and song elaboration in Geothlypis. In accordance with this inconsistency, ancestral-character-state reconstruction showed that evolutionary loss of migratory behavior was associated with increased song elaboration in some clades within the genus, but not in others. Overall, song variation in wood-warblers (Geothlypis) provides no support for the hypothesis that long-distance migration favors the evolution of elaborate songs.
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Vol. 132 • No. 1