2022-02-17Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2022.778610
Unravelling the Stability of Nightingale Song Over Time and Space Using Open, Citizen Science and Shared Data
Open science approaches enable and facilitate the investigation of many scientific questions in bioacoustics, such as studies on the temporal and spatial evolution of song, as in vocal dialects. In contrast to previous dialect studies, which mostly focused on songbird species with a small repertoire, here we studied the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), a bird species with a complex and large repertoire. To study dialects on the population level in this species, we used recordings from four datasets: an open museum archive, a citizen science platform, a citizen science project, and shared recordings from academic researchers. We conducted the to date largest temporal and geographic dialect study of birdsong including recordings from 1930 to 2019 and from 13 European countries, with a geographical coverage of 2,652 km of linear distance. To examine temporal stability and spatial dialects, a catalog of 1,868 song types of common nightingales was created. Instead of dialects, we found a high degree of stability over time and space in both, the sub-categories of song and in the occurrence of song types. For example, the second most common song type in our datasets occurred over nine decades and across Europe. In our case study, open and citizen science data proved to be equivalent, and in some cases even better, than data shared by an academic research group. Based on our results, we conclude that the combination of diverse and open datasets was particularly useful to study the evolution of song in a bird species with a large repertoire.