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Lark loses song as numbers drop, says study

Published on 20/03/2008

20 March 2008

MADRID – As songbirds go, larks probably have one of the most enchanting repertoires. But those under threat from extinction sing a different tune – or none at all.

Spanish researchers studying populations of Dupont’s lark in the Ebro River valley in northern Spain have discovered that the rare songbird’s repertoire shrinks as the number of specimens in an area declines. The reason, according to biologist Paola Laiolo, is that young males have fewer adult males to imitate, while in extreme cases they may even imitate the songs of males of other species.

"Analysing the diversity of songs can help us study and conserve threatened species and determine viable populations," Laiolo, whose work has been published by Britain’s Public Library of Science, said.

[Copyright El Pais / ANGELES ESPINOSA 2008]