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科学美国人60秒:濒临灭绝的鸟类正在忘记它们的歌声

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These Endangered Birds Are Forgetting Their Songs

濒临灭绝的鸟类正在忘记它们的歌声

Some birds are relatively easy to study. Ross Crates studies the ones that aren’t. He’s part of the Difficult Bird Research Group at the Australian National University.

有些鸟类比较容易研究。罗斯·克拉茨研究表明这样的鸟类是那些不存在的。克拉茨是澳大利亚国立大学困难鸟类研究小组的一员。

“All our study species are quite challenging to study for various reasons, mostly because they’re really rare and highly mobile.”

“由于各种原因,我们研究的所有物种都非常具有挑战性,主要是因为它们非常罕见,而且具有高度流动性。”

One of those “difficult birds” is the critically endangered regent honeyeater. They’re medium-sized songbirds—with bright yellow tails and black-and-white chests. And though they once roamed Australia in flocks of hundreds, fewer than 300 remain in the wild today.

其中一种“困难的鸟类”是极度濒危的摄政王蜜鸟。体型中等,尾巴呈明亮的黄色,胸部呈黑白相间。尽管它们曾经数百只成群地在澳大利亚游荡,但如今野外存活的不到300只。

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Crates and his team tracked the birds over a five-year period. If they encountered a male, they’d record his song.

克拉茨和他的团队对这些鸟进行了5年的追踪。如果遇到一只雄性鸟类,就会录下它的歌声。

[CLIP: Proper song]

And they noted whether the males were paired up with females.

他们还记录了雄性是否与雌性配对。

They found that a quarter of the birds sangvariationsof the traditional honeyeater song. And 12 percent of the birds weren’t singing honeyeater songs at all. They were parroting different species’ songs—like this ...

他们发现,四分之一的金丝雀的歌声与传统的蜜雀不同。12%的鸟根本没有唱出蜂蜜鸟的歌。它们在模仿不同物种的叫声——就像这样……

[CLIP: Little friarbird]

... or this.

…或者是这样。

[CLIP: Little wattlebird]

That could mean bad news for the birds’ future—because males singing those untraditional songs were also less likely to be paired up with a mate, compared to their counterparts who sang the standard tune.

这对鸟儿的未来可能意味着坏消息——因为与唱标准曲调的雄性相比,唱这些非传统歌曲的雄性与配偶配对的可能性也更小。

“As females breed less, then there’s obviously fewer males in that generation to teach the next generation. A higher proportion of males sing weird songs. And you get a bit of a positive feedback toward extinction.”

“随着雌性后代的减少,能教下一代的雄性显然也就更少了。唱怪歌的男性比例更高。你会得到一些关于物种灭绝的积极反馈。”

The work appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

这项研究发表在《英国皇家学会学报B》上。

Crates says the honeyeaters’ loss of songs equates to a loss of culture.

克拉茨说,蜜雀失去了歌声,就等于失去了文化。

“It’s a complete sort of, you know, animal equivalent of the loss of Indigenous languages, whether that be Native American languages or Aboriginal Australian languages here.”

“这就相当于,动物的土著语言了,无论是美洲土著语言还是澳大利亚土著语言。”

He says he hopes it serves as a warning that all is not well in Australia’s natural world—and that we must do more to tackle climate change and conservation if we hope to save it.

他说,希望这是一个警告,即澳大利亚的自然世界并非一切都好,如果我们希望拯救自然,就必须在应对气候变化和保护方面做更多的工作。

These Endangered Birds Are Forgetting Their Songs

Some birds are relatively easy to study. Ross Crates studies the ones that aren’t. He’s part of the Difficult Bird Research Group at the Australian National University.

“All our study species are quite challenging to study for various reasons, mostly because they’re really rare and highly mobile.”

One of those “difficult birds” is the critically endangered regent honeyeater. They’re medium-sized songbirds—with bright yellow tails and black-and-white chests. And though they once roamed Australia in flocks of hundreds, fewer than 300 remain in the wild today.

Crates and his team tracked the birds over a five-year period. If they encountered a male, they’d record his song.

[CLIP: Proper song]

And they noted whether the males were paired up with females.

They found that a quarter of the birds sangvariationsof the traditional honeyeater song. And 12 percent of the birds weren’t singing honeyeater songs at all. They were parroting different species’ songs—like this ...

[CLIP: Little friarbird]

... or this.

[CLIP: Little wattlebird]

That could mean bad news for the birds’ future—because males singing those untraditional songs were also less likely to be paired up with a mate, compared to their counterparts who sang the standard tune.

“As females breed less, then there’s obviously fewer males in that generation to teach the next generation. A higher proportion of males sing weird songs. And you get a bit of a positive feedback toward extinction.”

The work appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. [Ross Crates et al., Loss of vocal culture and fitness costs in a critically endangered songbird]

Crates says the honeyeaters’ loss of songs equates to a loss of culture.

“It’s a complete sort of, you know, animal equivalent of the loss of Indigenous languages, whether that be Native American languages or Aboriginal Australian languages here.”

He says he hopes it serves as a warning that all is not well in Australia’s natural world—and that we must do more to tackle climate change and conservation if we hope to save it.


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