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Geographic Similarity and Year-To-Year Retention of Song in the Clay-Colored Sparrow (Spizella Pallida)

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The existence of dialects, individual variation in song within a population, and song retention from one year to the next were studied in populations of clay-colored sparrows in Manitoba and Ontario. Dialects were not found to exist in populations 12 km or 300 km apart in Manitoba. This was not because all songs were similar between the various areas, but because there were large variations among individuals within the different populations. An isolated population 2000 km distant in Ontario had only one characteristic different from the Manitoban populations; this difference is interpreted as arising from founding effects. Some factors which aid the development of dialects exist; males retained song types from one year to the next, and they showed a high rate of return between years on the study areas. However, in spite of potential isolating mechanisms (geographic separation and habitat differences), dialects did not develop, and it is argued that this results from an absence of song copying and cultural transmission of song pattern, and a lack of return of young to their natal area.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

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