Effects of habitat and body size on the evolution of tanager vocalizations

The early version of my most recent manuscript, which represents the final chapter from my MS thesis at San Diego State, was recently made available through the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Here’s a link to the paper through Wiley, or you can email me if you would like a full pdf and do not have access through the link above.


Mason and Burns (in press) considers the effects of habitat and body size on the evolution of tanager vocalizations. Illustrations were done by Mary Margaret Ferraro, an undergraduate at Cornell.

In this paper, co-authored with Kevin Burns, we find very little evidence that broad categorizations of habitat influence the evolution of tanager vocalizations. In contrast, body size is correlated with almost every vocalization character considered in this study.


These scatterplots suggest that body size, but not habitat type, affects the evolution of tanager vocalizations. Larger tanagers tend to sing lower pitched, slower pace songs within smaller bandwidths.

Together, our findings suggest that body size may play a more prominent role in shaping macroevolutionary patterns of songbird vocalizations than habitat acoustics.