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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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Related in: MedlinePlus

CSDs and calls are equally reliable measures of female BF mate preference.(A) With an estradiol implant administered, female BFs expressed CSDs in response to song playback, and song identity significantly affected that response. The most-preferred song evoked a significantly greater response than intermediately preferred songs or the least-preferred song (N = 12 birds; for all panels * indicates cases that are different than the response to the most-preferred song (Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05); statistics are provided in the text unless otherwise noted here). (B) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds never produced CSDs in response to any song stimulus (N = 12 birds). In no case did a sham implant induce birds to express CSDs in response to song (N = 4 birds, data not shown). (C) Calls produced during song presentation were also tallied in the same tests described in panels A and B. In the presence of an estradiol implant, birds called in response to many songs, and the song that evoked the greatest number of calls was invariably the same song that also evoked the greatest number of CSDs (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only significantly different from the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 3.65, p = 0.04, N = 12 birds). (D) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds also called in response to song stimuli (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only different than the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 4.47, p = 0.01, N = 12 birds). The song that evoked the greatest number of calls without an implant was the same song that evoked the greatest number of calls in the presence of the estradiol implant in 11 of 12 birds. Therefore, calls are an excellent measure of mate preference in adult female Bengalese finches. More calls were produced in the estradiol condition than in the absence of estradiol, but that difference was not significant for any of responses to the most-preferred song (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.30, N = 12 birds) or intermediately-preferred songs (p = 0.17) or least-preferred songs (p = 0.91).
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pone-0089438-g002: CSDs and calls are equally reliable measures of female BF mate preference.(A) With an estradiol implant administered, female BFs expressed CSDs in response to song playback, and song identity significantly affected that response. The most-preferred song evoked a significantly greater response than intermediately preferred songs or the least-preferred song (N = 12 birds; for all panels * indicates cases that are different than the response to the most-preferred song (Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05); statistics are provided in the text unless otherwise noted here). (B) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds never produced CSDs in response to any song stimulus (N = 12 birds). In no case did a sham implant induce birds to express CSDs in response to song (N = 4 birds, data not shown). (C) Calls produced during song presentation were also tallied in the same tests described in panels A and B. In the presence of an estradiol implant, birds called in response to many songs, and the song that evoked the greatest number of calls was invariably the same song that also evoked the greatest number of CSDs (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only significantly different from the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 3.65, p = 0.04, N = 12 birds). (D) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds also called in response to song stimuli (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only different than the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 4.47, p = 0.01, N = 12 birds). The song that evoked the greatest number of calls without an implant was the same song that evoked the greatest number of calls in the presence of the estradiol implant in 11 of 12 birds. Therefore, calls are an excellent measure of mate preference in adult female Bengalese finches. More calls were produced in the estradiol condition than in the absence of estradiol, but that difference was not significant for any of responses to the most-preferred song (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.30, N = 12 birds) or intermediately-preferred songs (p = 0.17) or least-preferred songs (p = 0.91).

Mentions: In the laboratory, female songbirds generally require a subcutaneous implant of estradiol in order to express CSDs commonly [2], [3], [6]. That was also the case in the BFs studied here (Figure 2A-2B), however other authors have reported varying results of estradiol in BF [5], [37] and have used other measures of female BF response to song [28]. We administered 17-ß-estradiol by subcutaneous implant in silastic tubing (1.96 mm outer diameter) containing 8 mm of hormone [6]. During the implantation procedure, the bird was restrained manually, a local anesthetic (4% lidocaine cream) was applied, the implant was inserted through a small incision in the skin overlying the abdomen, and the incision was sealed (VetBond). We monitored the bird throughout recovery. Seven days following that procedure, we presented female BFs with playback of the aggregate undirected song stimuli from the 8 males described above, and we recorded the expression of CSDs to define the mate choice of each female. We tested each bird’s preference 3 times in this paradigm.


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)

CSDs and calls are equally reliable measures of female BF mate preference.(A) With an estradiol implant administered, female BFs expressed CSDs in response to song playback, and song identity significantly affected that response. The most-preferred song evoked a significantly greater response than intermediately preferred songs or the least-preferred song (N = 12 birds; for all panels * indicates cases that are different than the response to the most-preferred song (Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05); statistics are provided in the text unless otherwise noted here). (B) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds never produced CSDs in response to any song stimulus (N = 12 birds). In no case did a sham implant induce birds to express CSDs in response to song (N = 4 birds, data not shown). (C) Calls produced during song presentation were also tallied in the same tests described in panels A and B. In the presence of an estradiol implant, birds called in response to many songs, and the song that evoked the greatest number of calls was invariably the same song that also evoked the greatest number of CSDs (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only significantly different from the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 3.65, p = 0.04, N = 12 birds). (D) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds also called in response to song stimuli (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only different than the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 4.47, p = 0.01, N = 12 birds). The song that evoked the greatest number of calls without an implant was the same song that evoked the greatest number of calls in the presence of the estradiol implant in 11 of 12 birds. Therefore, calls are an excellent measure of mate preference in adult female Bengalese finches. More calls were produced in the estradiol condition than in the absence of estradiol, but that difference was not significant for any of responses to the most-preferred song (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.30, N = 12 birds) or intermediately-preferred songs (p = 0.17) or least-preferred songs (p = 0.91).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0089438-g002: CSDs and calls are equally reliable measures of female BF mate preference.(A) With an estradiol implant administered, female BFs expressed CSDs in response to song playback, and song identity significantly affected that response. The most-preferred song evoked a significantly greater response than intermediately preferred songs or the least-preferred song (N = 12 birds; for all panels * indicates cases that are different than the response to the most-preferred song (Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05); statistics are provided in the text unless otherwise noted here). (B) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds never produced CSDs in response to any song stimulus (N = 12 birds). In no case did a sham implant induce birds to express CSDs in response to song (N = 4 birds, data not shown). (C) Calls produced during song presentation were also tallied in the same tests described in panels A and B. In the presence of an estradiol implant, birds called in response to many songs, and the song that evoked the greatest number of calls was invariably the same song that also evoked the greatest number of CSDs (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only significantly different from the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 3.65, p = 0.04, N = 12 birds). (D) In the absence of an estradiol implant, birds also called in response to song stimuli (intermediately-preferred songs and least-preferred songs evoked responses that were not only different than the response to the most-preferred song (*, Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05) but also different than one another (dagger symbol, Tukey’s HSD, qs = 4.47, p = 0.01, N = 12 birds). The song that evoked the greatest number of calls without an implant was the same song that evoked the greatest number of calls in the presence of the estradiol implant in 11 of 12 birds. Therefore, calls are an excellent measure of mate preference in adult female Bengalese finches. More calls were produced in the estradiol condition than in the absence of estradiol, but that difference was not significant for any of responses to the most-preferred song (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.30, N = 12 birds) or intermediately-preferred songs (p = 0.17) or least-preferred songs (p = 0.91).
Mentions: In the laboratory, female songbirds generally require a subcutaneous implant of estradiol in order to express CSDs commonly [2], [3], [6]. That was also the case in the BFs studied here (Figure 2A-2B), however other authors have reported varying results of estradiol in BF [5], [37] and have used other measures of female BF response to song [28]. We administered 17-ß-estradiol by subcutaneous implant in silastic tubing (1.96 mm outer diameter) containing 8 mm of hormone [6]. During the implantation procedure, the bird was restrained manually, a local anesthetic (4% lidocaine cream) was applied, the implant was inserted through a small incision in the skin overlying the abdomen, and the incision was sealed (VetBond). We monitored the bird throughout recovery. Seven days following that procedure, we presented female BFs with playback of the aggregate undirected song stimuli from the 8 males described above, and we recorded the expression of CSDs to define the mate choice of each female. We tested each bird’s preference 3 times in this paradigm.

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