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Does the ring species concept predict vocal variation in the crimson rosella, Platycercus elegans, complex?

journal contribution
posted on 01.03.2009, 00:00 authored by Raoul RibotRaoul Ribot, Mathew BergMathew Berg, Kate BuchananKate Buchanan, J Komdeur, L Joseph, Andy BennettAndy Bennett
Vocal variation may be important in population divergence. We studied geographical variation in contact calls of parrots of the crimson rosella, Platycercus elegans, complex, which is characterized by striking geographical plumage coloration variation. This complex has long been considered a rare example of a ring species (where two divergent forms coexist in sympatry but are connected by a chain of intermediate populations forming a geographical ring). We tested whether contact call variation is consistent with the ring species hypothesis. We recorded calls throughout the ring, including several sites from the three main population groups forming the ring and interfaces between them. We analysed duration, peak frequency, fundamental frequency and frequency modulation. We found significant differences, particularly in fundamental frequency and frequency modulation, at multiple biogeographical scales ranging from local populations to subspecies level. Discriminant function analyses showed some populations could be reliably discriminated from call structure. However, our results provided little support for three key predictions of the ring species hypothesis: (1) calls of the terminal, most divergent forms were not significantly different in three of the four acoustic variables, and differences did not appear to be maintained in sympatry, (2) phenotypically/geographically intermediate populations were not characterized by intermediate calls, and (3) call variation was not concordant with geographical sequence around the ring from one terminal form to the other. Our results underscore the emerging view that the evolutionary histories and phenotypic variability of many long-held ring species may be inadequately described by the ring species hypothesis and require alternative explanations. (C) 2008 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



Animal behaviour






581 - 593




London, England







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Elsevier