What happens with birdsong during invasion of a new territory? To answer this question a citizen science project looks for volunteers to record yellowhammers in New Zealand and Great Britain to evaluate distribution of their dialects. Read more below...or download the leaflet (png|pdf). You can share it as you like.
The yellowhammer is a widespread, small and conspicuous songbird that seems ideal for studying the function of dialects in animal vocal communication. Its simple songs can be assigned to several dialects, broadly distributed in Europe but overlapping in a mosaic fashion. Most birds at a locality sing only one dialect, which seems locally stable over years.
British yellowhammers have been purposefully introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century, and quickly colonised it. This provides good conditions for studying song cultural evolution during a biological invasion, and tracking how dialects spread. For this, song recordings from various parts of both countries are needed.
The yellowhammer is easy to recognise, sings until late in the season, and its song can be recorded by many common gadgets (including smartphones, digital cameras, or voice recorders). Therefore, general public such as birdwatchers, tourists, or nature enthusiasts can record yellowhammer songs in their vicinity, upload the recordings, and thus contribute to a large-scale research project that would not be possible without their participation.
A similar citizen science project on yellowhammer dialects in the Czech Republic was a huge success. During two years we obtained more than 1700 recordings covering most of the country. Recording of yellowhammer songs enriched daily walks, bike trips, or family journeys of our volunteers. For some, collecting of recordings from different places, and seeing them appear on an interactive online map, became real passion.
If you can record yellowhammers for us, just follow the orange boxes on the top. They will guide you through all important steps.
On our website we host two sister projects:
We are open to accept sister projects from other countries, provided they will be "self-coordinated" - meaning that we will provide technical support, while the communication with volunteers and song analysis would be on respective research team.