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Journal Article

A Population Memetics Approach to Cultural Evolution in Chaffinch Song: Differentiation among Populations

Alejandro Lynch and Allan J. Baker
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 2 (Apr., 1994), pp. 351-359
DOI: 10.2307/2410097
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410097
Page Count: 9
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Population Memetics Approach to Cultural Evolution in Chaffinch Song: Differentiation among Populations
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Abstract

We investigated cultural evolution in populations of common chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) in the Atlantic islands (Azores, Madeira, and Canaries) and neighboring continental regions (Morocco and Iberia) by employing a population-memetic approach. To quantify differentiation, we used the concept of a song meme, defined as a single syllable or a series of linked syllables capable of being transmitted. The levels of cultural differentiation are higher among the Canaries populations than among the Azorean ones, even though the islands are on average closer to each other geographically. This is likely the result of reduced levels of migration, lower population sizes, and bottlenecks (possibly during the colonization of these populations) in the Canaries; all these factors produce a smaller effective population size and therefore accentuate the effects of differentiation by random drift. Significant levels of among-population differentiation in the Azores, in spite of substantial levels of migration, attest to the differentiating effects of high mutation rates of memes, which allow the accumulation of new mutants in different populations before migration can disperse them throughout the entire region.

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