Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Department

Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Jones, Andrew Wayne

Subject Headings

Veery, Birdsongs, Ecology, Biology, Environmental Studies

Abstract

The Veery (Catharus fuscescens) is a common Neotropical migrant thrush whose breeding distribution spans the Northern United States and southern Canada and continues south through the high elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. Despite its wide distribution, many aspects of Veery biology are largely unknown, including a clear characterization of song and knowledge of geographic song variation. I describe the song structure, repertoire size, and patterns of song delivery in the songs of the Veery and describe geographic song variation across four regions along the Appalachian Mountains. Visual analysis of song spectrogram images of territorial males revealed that Veeries' repertoire ranges from one to six different song types, which is larger than what was previously described in the literature. Spectrogram analysis suggested that Veeries present song types in predictable patterns, and patterns of song presentation can change depending on repertoire size. Veeries also presented their songs in an oscillating frequency pattern regardless of repertoire size, a previously undocumented feature of their singing behavior. Random coefficient models show significant variation infrequency and temporal features of the Veery song within each sample area and across the Appalachian Mountains. The interconnectedness of developmental and behavioral processes such as song learning, natal and breeding dispersal, and varying levels of gene flow among populations may be influencing the geographic frequency shifts found in Veery songs across this more isolated portion of the breeding range

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