"... for the majority of species, essentially nothing is known about their ontogeny, vocal reptoire, geographic variation, how vocalizations are used in communication, or even the barest essentials ..."
ABOVE: Male western type, BELOW: Female
Could this method ultimately help scientists identify, using birdsong, species limits in Antbirds that have little or no morphological differences? Could this method identify birdsong as a new metric in analyzing species limits beyond the Antbirds? Is it possible, utilizing birdsong, for scientists to identify possible speciation, in process, by illustrating the differences in bird populations? These are only a few questions we would like to answer about birdsong and species boundary studies.
Support Bioacoustics Studies
Studying less complex creatures, their communication and development allows us to directly relate these experiences and advancements in science to our own species. Birds, being highly communicative using acoustics like humans, are a perfect substitute for study.
"... perhaps even more important than the new species is the growing realization that many allopatric populations previously considered subspecies are entitled to species status ..."
Dusky Antbird, Cercomacra tyrannina
This map is based on maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website, for the distribution in Central America and/or Caribbean, and on a map provided by Robert S. Ridgely, for the South American distribution.
The data for the InforNatura maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.Type your paragraph here.
Science requires confirmation to support a hypothesis. For our research, we believe, that birdsong can be used to identify species limits in the passarine division of suboscines, the Antbirds. We are looking to confirm a methodology by Morton Isler, Phyllis Isler & Bret Whitney from 1998, but with updated and automated methods using new available technology.
Our hope is in confirming this method we can better target Antbird species for conservation priorities by identifying possibly new species limits in current populations. By using updated methods, automation and new technology we will be able to offer a methodology that is more competitively priced, taking less resources, to ultimately identify conservation priority targets for conservation managers more rapidly for field execution. Additionally, in the case of invalidation of these methods we can be given the opportunity to identify and refine a new methodology for confirmation.
There are two distinct morpho-types in Panama; the eastern type (the male is grey) and the western type (the male is dark/grey black). Could this be speciation? Or could this be a simple morphological variation within a species? We are studying these questions from a very cool approach:
WHY, TO WHAT END?!?!
We are interested in measuring vocalizations of Dusky Antbirds to learn if there is a significant difference between two populations in Panama. We accomplish this by recording their songs and calls utilizing a sonograph and measure different components (time, frequency, latency, amplitude, pace, note structure & tonality). In a species that is unknown to "learn" its birdsong, we can assume that all populations should use the same "genetically" encoded communication. This is a common trait of most suboscine Antbirds. If there is a statistical difference in our measured components between populations it could suggest something going on!
See an example below:
The Dusky Antbird is a sexually dimorphic suboscine that resides throughout the neotropics and throughout Panama.
In the 1996 publication, "Ecology and evolution of acoustic communication in birds" edited by Don Kroodsma & Edward Miller, the authors point out the urgent need for bioacoustics study in the neotropics for both understanding and conservation purposes:
Bioacoustics & Conservation
"... bird sounds provide the most efficient means by which the complex of avifauna of the neotropics can be surveyed ..."
T.A. Parker 1991 & Riede 1993
In our contemporary model of competitive funding for conservation it is integral that scientists create and confirm cost effective & efficient means to collect and analyze data. Furthermore, we are able to more rapidly identify and protect species at risk using these new methods and technology.