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Do the Siberian tits Parus cinctus in Scandinavia and Siberia speak the same language?

S. Haftorn & J.P. Hailman (1997). Do the Siberian tits Parus cinctus in Scandinavia and Siberia speak the same language?. Bioacoustics, Volume 8 (3-4): 223 -247

 

Abstract: 

The vocabulary of Siberian tits Parus cinctus in South Norway and East Siberia is compared by means of tape recordings and spectrograms. The species has many different calls that are greatly confused in the literature. In this paper ten main call types are examined. On the whole, the equivalent utterings are geographically so similar that a distinction is usually impossible or questionable. This similarity also applies to the contextual use of the calls. Consistent structural differences in certain calls were nevertheless found. The sit foraging call embraced on average a broader frequency range and was of a slightly longer duration in Siberia than in Norway. The complex ‘gargle' system could at both places be divided into three main groups equally represented in the populations: (1) trilled, (2) tonal and (3) simple gargles. The tonal gargles are characterized by a terminal tonal element (T) that varies in shape. In Norway, tonal gargles terminating with an even or upslurred T dominated, in Siberia those with a chevron-formed T.  Historically, the west-east distribution throughout Eurasia was apparently continuous until quite recently, allowing an effective gene flow. Considering the huge distance from Norway to East Siberia and the markedly resident behaviour of the Siberian tit it is nevertheless somewhat unexpected that so few vocal differences have evolved. Several of the calls of the Siberian tit are structurally very similar to equivalent (most likely homologous) calls in other species belonging to the subgenus Poecile, e.g. the willow tit Parus montanus and the black-capped chickadee P. atricapillus, suggesting that the multicall repertoire of their common ancestor remained largely intact despite Poecile's differentiation into different species.

Keywords: 
Parus cinctus, Poecile subgenus, vocabulary, geographical variation

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