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Comparative analysis of intraspecific song variability in lark species (Alaudidae) with different degree of population fragmentation


In passerines, micro and macro geographic patterns of song differentiation are a well-documented phenomenon. Macro geographic variation is recognized by the presence of song variants encompassing extensive populations of a species, whereas micro geographic variation occurs where distances between populations are small and point out to local dialect systems. Songs can exist as several dialects forming a geographic mosaic in which interbreeding individuals within a population share song themes that are different from those of adjoining groups. By means of positive assortative mating or limiting dispersal opportunities, song dialects potentially act as a behavioural barrier to maintenance of genetic variability in populations which would otherwise be considered large enough to remain stable in conservation terms. With this project, we focus on intraspecific song variation and population spatial organisation of seven larks (Chersophilus Dupont, Melanocorypha calendar, Galleria thecae, G. cristata, Calandrella brachydactyla, C. refastens, Aloud ardencies; Aves, Alaudidae). The differential degree of population fragmentation characterising the different species make them a good study subject to test for the effects of spatial isolation on song patterns, both at micro-geographic and macro-geographic scales. All these species have an unfavourable status (and one-C Dupont- is now endangered of extinction); hence, the analysis of interoperation variation in song structure may help in assessing population dynamics and the potential role of dialect differentiation in population splitting and isolation. Evidence from bioacoustics will be compared and integrated with other sources of information (genetics, radio tracking, dispersal), helping to create a touchstone for the study of bird population dynamics. During training in EBD, the researcher is expected to learn how to deal with population biology and dynamics, while implementing her bioacoustics background.

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