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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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Different facets of male song can be evaluated independently.When different facets of song selectivity are compared for each bird, the degree of selectivity for individual identity and the degree of selectivity for directed song are not related. That was true for both the group that had experience with the male singers (filled symbols; square indicates bird in Figure 4A, triangle indicates bird in Figure 4B) and females that had no experience with the male singers (open symbols; star indicates birds in Figure 4D, diamond indicates bird in Figure 4E; statistics detailed in the text). Thus, an individual bird can be selective for one aspect of male song but unselective for another aspect.
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pone-0089438-g007: Different facets of male song can be evaluated independently.When different facets of song selectivity are compared for each bird, the degree of selectivity for individual identity and the degree of selectivity for directed song are not related. That was true for both the group that had experience with the male singers (filled symbols; square indicates bird in Figure 4A, triangle indicates bird in Figure 4B) and females that had no experience with the male singers (open symbols; star indicates birds in Figure 4D, diamond indicates bird in Figure 4E; statistics detailed in the text). Thus, an individual bird can be selective for one aspect of male song but unselective for another aspect.

Mentions: We quantified each female’s selectivity for the songs of different males (selectivity index, Figure 4) and compared that to her selectivity for directed song (Figure 6). Across the population of female birds, there was no significant relation between those variables (Figure 7), evident as a slope that was not different than zero (Linear regression, p = 0.27, regression  =  18 birds) and no significant correlation (Spearman correlation, p = 0.28, N = 18 birds). The absence of a relation between selectivity for individual identity and selectivity for directed versus undirected song was evident in birds that had experience with the male singers (Linear regression slope not different than zero: p = 0.72, Spearman correlation not significant, p = 0.67, N = 10 birds, filled symbols in Figure 7) and in birds that had no experience with the male singers (Linear regression slope not different than zero: p = 0.21, Spearman correlation not significant, p = 0.35, N = 8 birds, open symbols in Figure 7). These data reveal that selectivity for one facet of male song does not obligate a female to be equally selective for other facets of that song. Therefore, preference is not a monolithic entity. Instead, female BF mate choice is influenced by multiple facets of male song performance, and at least two of those facets are evaluated independently. Evidence of independent evaluation of specific song features gives rise to the very interesting possibility that evaluation of different song features may be independent cognitive processes associated with activation of distinct populations of brain cells.


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)

Different facets of male song can be evaluated independently.When different facets of song selectivity are compared for each bird, the degree of selectivity for individual identity and the degree of selectivity for directed song are not related. That was true for both the group that had experience with the male singers (filled symbols; square indicates bird in Figure 4A, triangle indicates bird in Figure 4B) and females that had no experience with the male singers (open symbols; star indicates birds in Figure 4D, diamond indicates bird in Figure 4E; statistics detailed in the text). Thus, an individual bird can be selective for one aspect of male song but unselective for another aspect.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0089438-g007: Different facets of male song can be evaluated independently.When different facets of song selectivity are compared for each bird, the degree of selectivity for individual identity and the degree of selectivity for directed song are not related. That was true for both the group that had experience with the male singers (filled symbols; square indicates bird in Figure 4A, triangle indicates bird in Figure 4B) and females that had no experience with the male singers (open symbols; star indicates birds in Figure 4D, diamond indicates bird in Figure 4E; statistics detailed in the text). Thus, an individual bird can be selective for one aspect of male song but unselective for another aspect.
Mentions: We quantified each female’s selectivity for the songs of different males (selectivity index, Figure 4) and compared that to her selectivity for directed song (Figure 6). Across the population of female birds, there was no significant relation between those variables (Figure 7), evident as a slope that was not different than zero (Linear regression, p = 0.27, regression  =  18 birds) and no significant correlation (Spearman correlation, p = 0.28, N = 18 birds). The absence of a relation between selectivity for individual identity and selectivity for directed versus undirected song was evident in birds that had experience with the male singers (Linear regression slope not different than zero: p = 0.72, Spearman correlation not significant, p = 0.67, N = 10 birds, filled symbols in Figure 7) and in birds that had no experience with the male singers (Linear regression slope not different than zero: p = 0.21, Spearman correlation not significant, p = 0.35, N = 8 birds, open symbols in Figure 7). These data reveal that selectivity for one facet of male song does not obligate a female to be equally selective for other facets of that song. Therefore, preference is not a monolithic entity. Instead, female BF mate choice is influenced by multiple facets of male song performance, and at least two of those facets are evaluated independently. Evidence of independent evaluation of specific song features gives rise to the very interesting possibility that evaluation of different song features may be independent cognitive processes associated with activation of distinct populations of brain cells.

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