Send to

Choose Destination
Anim Behav. 1998 Apr;55(4):977-94.

Sexual selection and the evolution of mechanical sound production in manakins (Aves: Pipridae).

Author information

Department of Systematics & Ecology and the Natural History Museum, University of Kansas


I surveyed and described modulated, non-vocal, mechanical sounds of the lek-breeding Neotropical manakins (Pipridae). Variation among manakin species in mechanical sound production, repertoire size, acoustic structure, associated feather specialization, and mechanical sound production mechanisms were analysed comparatively in the context of a phylogenetic hypothesis for the family. Mechanical sound production has probably evolved five or six times independently and been lost once within the 42 species of manakins. Complex mechanical sound repertoires have also evolved independently several times. Acoustic structure of these sounds indicates that at least four different physical mechanisms of mechanical sound production have evolved: short, broad-frequency spectrum pulses; short, low-frequency pulses; aerodynamic vortices; and harmonic oscillations. All well-known mechanical sounds in manakins are associated with obvious wing movements and sexually dimorphic wing feather specializations. Both primary and secondary wing feather specializations have evolved convergently within the family for the production of short, broad-frequency mechanical sound pulses. Two less well-known manakin clades also have tail feather specializations that may function in mechanical sound production. A concentrated-changes test documented that the dynamic patterns of evolution in mechanical sound production in the polygynous manakins are highly unlikely by chance alone. Intersexual selection for acrobatic display may have created subsequent opportunities for the evolution of novel preferences for incidental non-vocal sounds produced by acrobatic movements. Novel female preferences for these mechanical sounds led to further elaboration of these sounds and to the evolution of complex mechanical sound repertoires in independent lineages of the family. Copyright 1998 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center