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Title: Perceived wintering latitude determines timing of song output in a migratory bird
Migratory bird populations frequently consist of individuals that overwinter variable distances from the breeding site. Seasonal changes in photoperiod, which varies with latitude, underlie seasonal changes in singing frequency in birds. Therefore, migratory populations that consist of individuals that overwinter at different latitudes with large overwintering ranges could experience within-population variation in seasonal production of song. To test the influence of overwintering latitude on intrapopulation variance in song production in the spring, we subjected two groups of Eastern Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia melodia) from the same partially migratory breeding population to different photoperiodic schedules associated with a 1,300-km difference in overwintering location. One group remained on the natural photoperiodic schedule of the breeding site (resident group) while the other group experienced a nonbreeding photoperiod that mimicked a southern migration in the fall followed by a northern migration back to the breeding site in the spring (migratory group). We compared song output between the two groups in three different stages (nonbreeding, prebreeding, and breeding). Little singing occurred during nonbreeding stage sample dates (20 November, 6 December) for the resident group, and no singing occurred for the migrant group. During the prebreeding stage (27 January, 7 February), significantly more singing occurred in the more » resident group than in the migrant group. During the breeding stage (21 March, 4 April), after a simulated migration for the migrants, song output was similar in both groups. These results suggest that within-population variation in wintering latitude may contribute to variation in seasonal changes in singing behavior, which may covary with readiness to breed. Studies utilizing confirmed migrants and residents, rather than merely simulated migrants and residents, are also needed to better understand these processes. « less
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Ecology and evolution
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National Science Foundation
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