Explaining Science – Gene flow among song dialects
Today Kandace Glanville, an OSU Forestry Fisheries & Wildlife major and student assistant in the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, talks with Angelika Nelson, Curator of the Borror Lab, about a recent research publication in the journal Ethology. The study is entitled “High levels of gene flow among song dialect populations of the Puget Sound white-crowned sparrow”.
Find out why we studied the White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys pugetensis to investigate gene flow among song dialects:
The research aimed to investigate a correlation between behavioral and genetic differentiation:
Song dialects of White-crowned Sparrows along the Pacific northwest coast
Study site in Bandon, Oregon
Angelika Nelson banding a White-crowned Sparrow in the field
Our research built on knowledge from previous studies and used samples that were collected previously:
Angelika working in the molecular lab
Size differences among peaks of microsatellites, nucleotide tandem repeats in DNA sequences
A strand of DNA suspended in buffer
We found gene flow among bird populations that differ in song dialects; this may demonstrate dispersal of young birds across dialect borders:
Our findings are consistent with most studies to date of song and population structure within songbirds. The processes of song learning and dispersal mean that vocalizations are free to vary independently of patterns of divergence in neutral genetic markers.
Reference: Poesel, Angelika, Anthony C. Fries, Lisa Miller, H. Lisle Gibbs, Jill A. Soha, and Douglas A. Nelson. “High levels of gene flow among song dialect populations of the Puget Sound white‐crowned sparrow.” Ethology 123, no. 9 (2017): 581-592.
About the Author: Angelika Nelson is the curator of the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics and the social media manager for the Museum of Biodiversity.