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To the untrained eye, all reed warblers may look alike. Anyone who takes a closer look will quickly realize that there is in fact an amazing spectrum of different ecological and adaptive strategies across the world´s 53 species. Members of the reed warbler family have been models for this diversity in a large number of biological studies of avian lifestyles. Many of these have resulted in outstanding findings and set new standards in behavioural and evolutionary ecology.
The authors rise to the challenge of determining how the members of the family have diversified by comparing their relationships and ecologies. This comparative approach runs like a thread throughout this book and touches on almost all biological aspects, ranging from habitat use, competition and communication to reproduction and brood parasitism, mating systems, migration, population dynamics, island life and convergent evolution. The life strategies of these ‘little brown jobs’ exemplify some of the key topics in 21st century ornithology.