Ecological and evolutionary significance of convergence in bird song: male and female responses to mixed singing in hybridizing nightingales
Vocalization is important for maintenance of reproductive barriers in many bird species. Interspecific copying of acoustic signals nevertheless frequently occurs, and its ecological and evolutionary significance is still insufficiently understood. The aim of the PhD project is to evaluate potential adaptive value of this phenomenon in our intensively studied system, the contact zone of two hybridizing sister species of nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos and L. luscinia)1,2. In sympatry, most L. luscinia males incorporate songs of L. megarhynchos in their repertoires but not vice versa3. The student will test in field experiments the possible implications of this asymmetric song convergence: interspecific territoriality, mating preferences and hybridization. Playback experiments and bioacoustic analyses will show how males of both species respond to the mixed song in contrast to the pure species-specific song. Experiments on female preferences will test how mixed song is perceived by potential mates in both species. Detailed genomic analyses performed in parallel with this PhD project, will allow us to put field results into evolutionary context.
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1 Storchová R, Reif J and Nachman MW (2010). Female heterogamety and speciation: Reduced introgression of the Z chromosome between two species of nightingales. Evolution 64(2):456-71.
2 Reifová R, Reif J, Antczak M and Nachman MW (2011). Ecological character displacement in the face of gene flow: Evidence from two species of nightingales. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11:138.
3 Vokurková J, Petrusková T, Reifová R, Kozman A, Mořkovský L, Kipper S, Weiss M, Reif J, Dolata PT, Petrusek A (2013). The causes and evolutionary consequences of mixed singing in two hybridizing songbird species (Luscinia spp.). PLoS One 8(4):e60172.
We expect a motivated student with good experience in field ornithology, able (after some training) to work independently in harsh field conditions. The ideal candidate for this PhD position is interested in both ecology and evolutionary biology, and is willing to learn new methods (experience of bioacoustics is a plus). He/she must have finished the MSc. (or equivalent) by September 2014 at the latest.
Time and place:
The student will work in a young team based at the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Fieldwork will be conducted in Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. The position is available for up to four years, starting in October 2014.
The PhD candidate’s net monthly income will start at 16.500 CZK (ca 610 EUR) in the first year, and may progressively increase with experience and achievements during the study. (Note that living expenses in the Czech Republic are generally lower than in Western European countries.)