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Bioacoustics in Current Biology

To: Bioacoustics <>
Subject: Bioacoustics in Current Biology
From: Alan McElligott <>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2006 10:39:04 +0000 (GMT)
Hans Slabbekoorn and Ardie den Boer-Visser

Cities Change the Songs of Birds
Current Biology, Vol. 16, Iss. 23, 2006
Pages 2326- 2331


Worldwide urbanization and the ongoing rise of urban noise levels form a major 
threat to living conditions in and around cities 1, 2, 3 and 4. Urban 
environments typically homogenize animal communities, and this results, for 
example, in the same few bird species' being found everywhere 5 and 6. Insight 
into the behavioral strategies of the urban survivors may explain the 
sensitivity of other species to urban selection pressures. Here, we show that 
songs that are important to mate attraction and territory defense have 
significantly diverged in great tits (Parus major), a very successful urban 
species. Urban songs were shorter and sung faster than songs in forests, and 
often concerned atypical song types. Furthermore, we found consistently higher 
minimum frequencies in ten out of ten city-forest comparisons from London to 
Prague and from Amsterdam to Paris. Anthropogenic noise is most likely a 
dominant factor driving these dramatic changes 7, 8 and 9. These data provide 
the mos
 t consistent evidence supporting the acoustic-adaptation hypothesis since it 
was postulated in the early seventies 10, 11 and 12. At the same time, they 
reveal a behavioral plasticity that may be key to urban success and the lack of 
which may explain detrimental effects on bird communities that live in noisy 
urbanized areas or along highways.

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