Alarm calls are an important acoustic signal that can decide the life or death of an individual. Many birds are able to vary their alarm calls to provide more accurate information on e.g. urgency or even the type of a threatening predator. According to the acoustic adaptation hypothesis, the habitat plays an important role too in how acoustic patterns get transmitted. This is of particular interest for range-expanding species that will face new environmental conditions along the leading edge. One could hypothesize that the alarm call repertoire of a species could increase in newly founded ranges to incorporate new habitats and threats individuals might face. Hence selection for a larger active vocabulary might be beneficial for new colonizers. Using the Great-Tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) as a model species, Samantha Bowser from Arizona State University and Maggie MacPherson from Louisiana State University want to find out exactly that.
The Great-Tailed Grackle is an appropriate species given its high vocal diversity. Also, the species consists of different subspecies that show range expansions along the northern range edge yet to a varying degree. Using vocal experiments and field recordings the researchers have a high potential to understand more about the acoustic adaptation hypothesis within a range dynamic process.
Over the course of this assessment, the authors incorporated the comments made by two reviewers into a strong revision of their research plans. With that being said, the few additional comments made by one of the initial reviewers round up the current stage this interesting research project is in.
To this end, I can only fully recommend the revised research plan and am much looking forward to the outcomes from the author’s experiments, modeling, and field data. With the suggestions being made at such an early stage I firmly believe that the final outcome will be highly interesting not only to an ornithological readership but to every ecologist and biogeographer interested in drivers of range dynamic processes.
Bowser, S., MacPherson, M. (2021). A study on the role of social information sharing leading to range expansion in songbirds with large vocal repertoires: Enhancing our understanding of the Great-Tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) alarm call. In principle recommendation by PCI Ecology. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/2UFJ5. Version 3
DOI or URL of the preprint: https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/2UFJ5
Version of the preprint: None
This is my first contribution handled through PCI, please apology the long handling time while figuring out how the system and the ideas behind PCI fully flesh out.
At first I was quite surprised to see that this is not a preprint per se but rather an outline of what eventually will become a nice study. I got thrilled on it as I really like the idea to embark an external board of reviewer that accompany a project already at the early stages. I think this is tremendously helpful, especially if one is trying to investigate new questions or using unfamiliar tools. It means more work for us though as I am now expecting an iterative process where the same team of reviewer will revisit your work to see how you have been doing. So it's far from a simple review what I was initially expecting but is rather a journey we take together - which I actually like the more I think about it.
With all that being said, you will find enclosed two reviews of two highly trusted peers of mine and I think they provide really good feedback what will help your envisioned research. Even though there might be some "make it or break it" issues I think they could be of help to navigate around them at that early stage of your work. E.g. considering some simulation work to frame null models against which your findings could be compared (like in anything related to phylogenetic relationships/distances).
I hope you will be able to answer the excellent points provided by the reviewers.
All the best