Long-tailed finch

The long-tailed finch Poephila acuticauda is an estrildid finch endemic to the tropical savannah of northern Australia. The species occurs in two sub-species that differ in bill colour. The yellow-billed nominate form is found in the west with P. a. hecki found in the east. These two sub-species are in contact in the centre of the species range and provide an excellent opportunity to study processes underlying speciation. We are investigating behavioural, physiological and morphological differences between them, as well as conducting work on divergence across the genome in collaboration with Daniel Hooper and Trevor Price in Chicago (US).

The species is particularly ideal for this work because they are easy to keep in captivity and therefore we can conduct observational and experimental work on individuals hybridising in captivity. With Melissah Rowe (University of Oslo, Norway) we are working on differences in sperm morphology in this recently diverged sub-species pair and how that contributes to reproductive isolation – an important part of the speciation process.

Hecki Sperm head
SEM picture of the head of a sperm from P a hecki. Picture: Melissah Rowe

Publications arising from our work on the long-tailed finch

(Please email for any PDF’s that you are unable to get)

Hooper DM, Griffith SC, Price TD (2019) Sex chromosome inversions enforce reproductive isolation across an avian hybrid zone. Molecular Ecology 28, 1246-1262. https://DOI.org/10.1111/mec.14874

Hurley, LL, Fanson KV, Griffith SC(2017) Variation in the number of sperm trapped on the perivitelline layer of the egg in three species of estrilid finch. Auk 134, 832-841. https://doi.org/10.1642/AUK-17-41.1

Griffith SC & Hooper DM (2017) Geographical variation in bill colour in the Long-tailed Finch: Evidence for a narrow zone of admixture between sub-species. Emu, 117, 141-150. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01584197.2016.1277763

van Rooij EP, Rollins LA, Holleley CE, Griffith SC (2016) Extra-pair paternity in the long-tailed finch Poephila acuticauda. PeerJ, 4:e1550 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1550 [PDF]

Rowe M, Griffith SC, Hofgaard A, Lifjeld JT (2015) Subspecific variation in sperm morphology and performance in the Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda). Avian Research, 6, 23 https://DOI.org/10.1186/s40657-015-0032-z  [PDF]

Singhal S, Leffler EM, Sannareddy K, Turner I, Venn O, Hooper DM, Strand AI, Li Q, Raney B, Balakrishnan CN, Griffith SC, McVean G, Przeworski M (2015) Stable recombination hotspots in birds. Science, 350, 928-932. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad0843

van Rooij EP, & Griffith SC (2013). Synchronised provisioning at the nest: parental coordination over care in a socially monogamous species. PeerJ, 1:e232 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.232  [PDF]

van Rooij EP & Griffith SC (2012) No evidence for assortative mating on the basis of putative ornamental traits in Long-tailed Finches Poephila acuticauda. Ibis, 154, 444-451. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2012.01233.x

Rollins LA, Svedin N, Pryke SR & Griffith SC (2012). The role of the Ord Arid Intrusion in the historical and contemporary genetic division of long-tailed finch subspecies in northern Australia. Ecology and Evolution, 2, 1208-1219 https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.259  [PDF]

van Rooij EP & Griffith SC (2011) Breeding ecology of an Australian estrildid, the Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda). Emu, 111, 297-303.

Pearce D, Pryke SR & Griffith SC (2011) Interspecific aggression for nest sites: model experiments with long-tailed and endangered Gouldian finches. Auk, 128, 497-505.

Brazill-Boast J, van Rooij EP, Pryke SR, Griffith SC (2011) Interference from long-tailed finches constrains reproduction in the endangered Gouldian finch. Journal of Animal Ecology, 80, 39-48.

van Rooij EP & Griffith SC (2010) Are monomorphic species really sexually indistinguishable: no evidence in wild long-tailed finches (Poephila acuticauda). Ethology, 116, 929-940.

Brazill-Boast J, Pryke SR, & Griffith SC (2010) Nest-site utilisation and niche overlap in two sympatric, cavity-nesting finches. Emu, 110, 170-177.

van Rooij EP & Griffith SC (2009). First record of cooperative breeding in an Australian Estrildid, the long-tailed finch (Poephila acuticauda). Emu, 109, 63-65.