Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Faster and higher.

Our world is getting increasingly noisier; and so to for birds. The close relationship between bird song and sexual selection means that it is imperative for males in song to be heard by prospective females. A recent study published in Current Biology has looked at singing Great Tits across Europe -– both in cities and forests. They found that, in order to successfully compete against background noise, city dwellers tend to sing faster, and at a higher pitch, in order to be heard. It can be assumed as to why this has come about the question though is how - is it genetic? Is it selection of the fittest for this particular environment? Or is it simply a vocal flexibility.
Interestingly this is not a man-made phenomenon; chaffinches have been demonstrated to increase their song frequency in a similar way in response to increased natural noise – such as waterfalls or torrents. So, if you want to be heard - shout louder!


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