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Comparing bird songs

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Subject: Comparing bird songs
From: "Brian R. Mitchell" <>
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 12:07:14 EDT
I'm hoping someone on this list can point me to a technique for analyzing similarity between bird songs (within a species). Basically, we have multiple songs recorded from about 20 bobolinks, and we want to determine if songs recorded from individuals within a local area are more similar than songs from different areas. Bobolink songs are complex, but are a sequence of phrases that are put together in different ways by different individuals. My question is whether there is a way to analyze a series of characters for frequency and placement. For instance we may have the following three songs, where letters represent phrases:


Songs 1 and 2 share more phrases and start with the same phrases, so I would classify them as being more similar. Does anyone know of an analytical technique for dealing with this sort of data? I'm thinking that the data is probably similar to some types of genetic data, where letters would refer to alleles, and I'm also wondering if anyone has applied genetic analysis methods to this type of data.



Brian R. Mitchell
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
University of Vermont
The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
81 Carrigan Drive
Burlington, VT  05405-0088
(802) 656-2496


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