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PLoS One. 2014 Feb 18;9(2):e89438. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089438. eCollection 2014.

Mate choice in adult female Bengalese finches: females express consistent preferences for individual males and prefer female-directed song performances.

Author information

1
Program in Neuroscience, Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, United States of America.

Abstract

In the process of mate selection by female songbirds, male suitors advertise their quality through reproductive displays in which song plays an important role. Females evaluate the quality of each signal and the associated male, and the results of that evaluation guide expression of selective courtship displays. Some studies reveal broad agreement among females in their preferences for specific signal characteristics, indicating that those features are especially salient in female mate choice. Other studies reveal that females differ in their preference for specific characteristics, indicating that in those cases female evaluation of signal quality is influenced by factors other than simply the physical properties of the signal. Thus, both the physical properties of male signals and specific traits of female signal evaluation can impact female mate choice. Here, we characterized the mate preferences of female Bengalese finches. We found that calls and copulation solicitation displays are equally reliable indicators of female preference. In response to songs from an array of males, each female expressed an individual-specific song preference, and those preferences were consistent across tests spanning many months. Across a population of females, songs of some males were more commonly preferred than others, and females preferred female-directed songs more than undirected songs, suggesting that some song features are broadly attractive. Preferences were indistinguishable for females that did or did not have social experience with the singers, indicating that female preference is strongly directed by song features rather than experiences associated with the singer. Analysis of song properties revealed several candidate parameters that may influence female evaluation. In an initial investigation of those parameters, females could be very selective for one song feature yet not selective for another. Therefore, multiple song parameters are evaluated independently. Together these findings reveal the nature of signal evaluation and mate choice in this species.

PMID:
24558501
PMCID:
PMC3928452
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0089438
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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