memes and bird-song

Subject: memes and bird-song
From: Paul Taylor <>
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009 00:16:35 +1100
Syd Curtis wrote:
In the book "Richard Dawkins - How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think"
(Oxford University Press), a couple of dozen writers each contribute an

Robert Augner (Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Public Health, London School
of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) in his "What's the Matter with Memes?"
writes (p 178):

"...the meme idea has spread throughout both 'highbrow' and popular
culture, being used in a variety of ways by different disciplines or
interest groups. For example, changes in the frequency with which the birds
in an area sing elements of their song has been studied by animal
behaviourists as a kind of 'population memetics' (by analogy to the study of
changes in gene frequency in population genetics)."

Can anyone help, please, with references for relevant published material?
I'm not familiar with that particular book, but "The Population Memetics
of Bird Song" by Alejandro Lynch is probably what you are after:

I would also recommend going back to the original source:  Dawkins!
"The Selfish Gene" and "The Extended Phenotype" are the two key books
that "changed the way we think".  However, if I had to recommend only
one of his books it would be "The Ancestor's Tale".

Loosely styled on Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tale" it's a pilgrimage
through time starting with Homo sapiens, and working up (down?) the
family tree meeting ancestors and relatives along the way.  It's a
great introduction to genetics, taxonomy etc. for the layperson.

Great stuff!


  Paul Taylor                                  Veni, vidi, tici -
                          I came, I saw, I ticked.


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