Song parameters of the fuscous honeyeater Lichenostomus fuscus correlate with habitat characteristics in fragmented landscapes

Maria I. Goretskaia, Irina R. Beme, Daria V. Popova, Nevil Amos, Katherine L. Buchanan, Paul Sunnucks, Alexandra Pavlova

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Both avian abundance and species richness decline in response to habitat loss and fragmentation. Studying variation in bird song structure across modified landscapes can provide insights into the effects of habitat alterations on coherence of social interactions within populations. Here, we tested whether fragmentation or change of habitat quality within box-ironbark forest of central Victoria impacted cultural connectivity and song characteristics in fuscous honeyeater, a declining common Australian bird. First, we tested whether geographic distance and/or spatially-explicit landscape connectivity models can explain patterns of song similarity across fragmented landscapes. We found no evidence that distance or habitat fragmentation impacts the nature and transmission of fuscous honeyeater song, and concluded that acoustic connectivity at the scale of our study is high. Second, we tested whether variation in habitat quality explains variation in song characteristics. In accordance with acoustic adaptation to habitat structure, birds sang longer songs in sites with more large trees and produced longer common song elements in sites with greater tree height. However, the acoustic adaptation hypothesis cannot explain the finding that in less-disturbed landscapes with higher tree-cover birds sang songs (and song elements) with higher maximum frequency and wider frequency bandwidth. We also found that birds sing longer and more variable songs of wider frequency bandwidth in less disturbed sites with a greater number of large mature trees, which may represent better feeding resources. Our study suggests that changes in song structure with habitat degradation could signal disturbed population processess, such as changes in the acoustic communication among resident birds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01493
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

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