Data from: Evolution and plasticity: divergence of song discrimination is faster in birds with innate song than in song learners in Neotropical passerine birds
Freeman, Benjamin G.; Montgomery, Graham A.; Schluter, Dolph (2017), Data from: Evolution and plasticity: divergence of song discrimination is faster in birds with innate song than in song learners in Neotropical passerine birds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3hp02
Plasticity is often thought to accelerate trait evolution and speciation. For example, plasticity in birdsong may partially explain why clades of song learners are more diverse than related clades with innate song. This “song learning” hypothesis predicts that 1) differences in song traits evolve faster in song learners, and 2) behavioral discrimination against allopatric song (a proxy for premating reproductive isolation) evolves faster in song learners. We tested these predictions by analyzing acoustic traits and conducting playback experiments in allopatric Central American sister pairs of song learning oscines (N = 42) and non-learning suboscines (N = 27). We found that non-learners evolved mean acoustic differences slightly faster than did leaners, and that the mean evolutionary rate of song discrimination was 4.3 times faster in non-learners than in learners. This unexpected result may be a consequence of significantly greater variability in song traits in song learners (by 54–79%) that requires song-learning oscines to evolve greater absolute differences in song before achieving the same level of behavioral song discrimination as non-learning suboscines. This points to “a downside of learning” for the evolution of species discrimination, and represents an important example of plasticity reducing the rate of evolution and diversification by increasing variability.
National Science Foundation, Award: 1523695