Processes underlying complex patterns of song trait evolution in a Setophaga hybrid zone
During secondary contact between two species when hybrids are less fit than parents, mating signals are expected to diverge while aggressive signals are expected to converge. If a single signal trait is used in both mating and aggression, then the dynamics between these two forces could influence the evolutionary trajectory of that trait. We studied such a situation in an avian hybrid zone between two Setophaga species, where birdsong is used in both mate attraction and territory defense. We hypothesized that song modules of the two species will show separate and distinct geographic patterns due to the influence of selective pressures for effective territorial aggression and for effective mate attraction. We conducted geographic cline analyses and playback experiments across this hybrid zone. We found an unexpected geographical pattern of asymmetric introgression of song rhythm, which may be explained by results of the playback experiments that suggest that differences in song rhythm serve a greater role in mate attraction than in territory defense. In contrast, differences in syllable morphology show little evidence of importance in mate attraction or territorial defense. Song features converge in the hybrid zone, yet patterns of trait change suggest that the song production modules may vary in their modes of development and inheritance. Syringeal motor gesturing, which gives rise to syllable morphology, shows a non-clinal mosaic pattern, suggesting that this trait may be predominantly learned. In contrast, respiratory patterning, which forms song rhythm, shows a clinal geographic transition, suggesting that this trait could be more innate. The results indicate that opposing forces act independently on song via distinct modules of the song production mechanism, driving complex patterns of song trait evolution.
See Love and Goller 2021 Processes underlying complex patterns of song trait evolution in a Setophaga hybrid zone.