Mechanisms of species diversity in birdsong learning

by Sarah Cushing Woolley, Jon Tatsuya Sakata

Vocal communication is critical for social interactions across a diversity of animals. A subset of those animals, including humans and songbirds, must learn how to produce their vocal communication signals. In this issue of PLOS Biology, Wang and colleagues use genome-wide investigations of gene expression in species hybrids to uncover transcriptional networks that could influence species differences in song learning and production. We provide an overview of birdsong learning and discuss how the study by Wang and colleagues advances our understanding of mechanisms of song learning and evolution.

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