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Male mate preferences in mutual mate choice: finches modulate their songs across and within male-female interactions.


ABSTRACT: Male songbirds use song to advertise their attractiveness as potential mates, and the properties of those songs have a powerful influence on female mate preferences. One idea is that males may exert themselves maximally in each song performance, consistent with female evaluation and formation of mate preferences being the primary contributors to mate choice. Alternatively, males may modulate their song behaviour to different degrees in the presence of different females, consistent with both male and female mate preferences contributing to mutual mate choice. Here we consider whether male Bengalese finches, Lonchura striata domestica, express mate preferences at the level of individual females, and whether those preferences are manifest as changes in song behaviour that are sufficient to influence female mate choice. We tested this idea by recording songs performed by individual unmated males during a series of 1 h interactions with each of many unmated females. Across recording sessions, males systematically varied both the quantity and the quality of the songs that they performed to different females. Males also varied their song properties throughout the course of each interaction, and behavioural tests using female birds revealed that songs performed at the onset of each interaction were significantly more attractive than songs performed by the same male later during the same interaction. This demonstration of context-specific variation in the properties of male reproductive signals and a role for that variation in shaping female mate preference reveals that male mate preferences play an important role in mutual mate choice in this species. Because these birds thrive so well in the laboratory and are so amenable to observation and experimentation across generations, these results yield a new model system that may prove especially advantageous in disentangling the role of male and female mate preferences in shaping mutual mate choice and its long-term benefits or consequences.

SUBMITTER: Heinig A 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4167625 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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