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

Dunning JL, Pant S, Bass A, Coburn Z, Prather JF - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Females evaluate the quality of each signal and the associated male, and the results of that evaluation guide expression of selective courtship displays.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.Together these findings reveal the nature of signal evaluation and mate choice in this species.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: 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.

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Overview of experimental methods and flow.In each Phase, we played song stimuli to female BFs in the absence of a male bird and tallied the number of responses to each stimulus. (A) In Phase 1, we investigated the degree to which calls as as reliable as CSDs as an index of female BF mate preference. In one group, females were tested first with no implant and then after a minimally invasive subcutaneous estradiol implant (N = 6 birds). In a second group, females were tested first with an estradiol implant and then after recovery from implant removal (N = 6 birds). In a third group, females were implanted with a subcutaneous sham implant (N = 4 birds). None of the birds tested in Phase 1 were also used in Phase 2. (B) In Phase 2A, we investigated the degree to which female BFs are consistent in their song preference across time and trials. In one group (“experienced”), females had interacted with the male birds from which song stimuli were recorded (N = 10 birds). In another group of birds (“inexperienced”), females had never interacted with those males (N = 11 birds). After a bird had completed Phase 2A, it moved on to Phase 2B in which we created stimuli from each female’s most-preferred male and tested the degree to which female birds prefer songs performed in the presence of a female (“directed”) versus songs performed when the male is alone (“undirected”). Three inexperienced birds failed to meet the criteria for inclusion in the results of Phase 2.
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pone-0089438-g001: Overview of experimental methods and flow.In each Phase, we played song stimuli to female BFs in the absence of a male bird and tallied the number of responses to each stimulus. (A) In Phase 1, we investigated the degree to which calls as as reliable as CSDs as an index of female BF mate preference. In one group, females were tested first with no implant and then after a minimally invasive subcutaneous estradiol implant (N = 6 birds). In a second group, females were tested first with an estradiol implant and then after recovery from implant removal (N = 6 birds). In a third group, females were implanted with a subcutaneous sham implant (N = 4 birds). None of the birds tested in Phase 1 were also used in Phase 2. (B) In Phase 2A, we investigated the degree to which female BFs are consistent in their song preference across time and trials. In one group (“experienced”), females had interacted with the male birds from which song stimuli were recorded (N = 10 birds). In another group of birds (“inexperienced”), females had never interacted with those males (N = 11 birds). After a bird had completed Phase 2A, it moved on to Phase 2B in which we created stimuli from each female’s most-preferred male and tested the degree to which female birds prefer songs performed in the presence of a female (“directed”) versus songs performed when the male is alone (“undirected”). Three inexperienced birds failed to meet the criteria for inclusion in the results of Phase 2.

Mentions: In one set of experiments (Phase 1, Figure 1), we defined the mate preference of each female BF by quantifying the expression of CSDs in response to playback of undirected song from each of 8 different BF males (N = 16 female birds). In those experiments (detailed in the following section), we also quantified the expression of calls during song playback to investigate the degree to which mate preference is evident in not only CSDs but also in expression of other forms of behavior. As detailed in the Results and as has been noted for another songbird species [33], we found that calls are as informative as CSDs in revealing female preference for specific songs. Therefore, we used calls to measure mate preference in all subsequent experiments.


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

Dunning JL, Pant S, Bass A, Coburn Z, Prather JF - PLoS ONE (2014)

Overview of experimental methods and flow.In each Phase, we played song stimuli to female BFs in the absence of a male bird and tallied the number of responses to each stimulus. (A) In Phase 1, we investigated the degree to which calls as as reliable as CSDs as an index of female BF mate preference. In one group, females were tested first with no implant and then after a minimally invasive subcutaneous estradiol implant (N = 6 birds). In a second group, females were tested first with an estradiol implant and then after recovery from implant removal (N = 6 birds). In a third group, females were implanted with a subcutaneous sham implant (N = 4 birds). None of the birds tested in Phase 1 were also used in Phase 2. (B) In Phase 2A, we investigated the degree to which female BFs are consistent in their song preference across time and trials. In one group (“experienced”), females had interacted with the male birds from which song stimuli were recorded (N = 10 birds). In another group of birds (“inexperienced”), females had never interacted with those males (N = 11 birds). After a bird had completed Phase 2A, it moved on to Phase 2B in which we created stimuli from each female’s most-preferred male and tested the degree to which female birds prefer songs performed in the presence of a female (“directed”) versus songs performed when the male is alone (“undirected”). Three inexperienced birds failed to meet the criteria for inclusion in the results of Phase 2.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3928452&req=5

pone-0089438-g001: Overview of experimental methods and flow.In each Phase, we played song stimuli to female BFs in the absence of a male bird and tallied the number of responses to each stimulus. (A) In Phase 1, we investigated the degree to which calls as as reliable as CSDs as an index of female BF mate preference. In one group, females were tested first with no implant and then after a minimally invasive subcutaneous estradiol implant (N = 6 birds). In a second group, females were tested first with an estradiol implant and then after recovery from implant removal (N = 6 birds). In a third group, females were implanted with a subcutaneous sham implant (N = 4 birds). None of the birds tested in Phase 1 were also used in Phase 2. (B) In Phase 2A, we investigated the degree to which female BFs are consistent in their song preference across time and trials. In one group (“experienced”), females had interacted with the male birds from which song stimuli were recorded (N = 10 birds). In another group of birds (“inexperienced”), females had never interacted with those males (N = 11 birds). After a bird had completed Phase 2A, it moved on to Phase 2B in which we created stimuli from each female’s most-preferred male and tested the degree to which female birds prefer songs performed in the presence of a female (“directed”) versus songs performed when the male is alone (“undirected”). Three inexperienced birds failed to meet the criteria for inclusion in the results of Phase 2.
Mentions: In one set of experiments (Phase 1, Figure 1), we defined the mate preference of each female BF by quantifying the expression of CSDs in response to playback of undirected song from each of 8 different BF males (N = 16 female birds). In those experiments (detailed in the following section), we also quantified the expression of calls during song playback to investigate the degree to which mate preference is evident in not only CSDs but also in expression of other forms of behavior. As detailed in the Results and as has been noted for another songbird species [33], we found that calls are as informative as CSDs in revealing female preference for specific songs. Therefore, we used calls to measure mate preference in all subsequent experiments.

Bottom Line: Females evaluate the quality of each signal and the associated male, and the results of that evaluation guide expression of selective courtship displays.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.Together these findings reveal the nature of signal evaluation and mate choice in this species.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: 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.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus