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Quality of public information matters in mate-choice copying in female zebra finches.

Kniel N, Schmitz J, Witte K - Front. Zool. (2015)

Bottom Line: Among zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis), only females (not males) copy the mate choice of others.After the observation period, females could again choose between new males of the two phenotypes in a second mate-choice test.Our results demonstrate that the quality of the received public information (visual and acoustic interaction of the observed pair) influences mate-choice copying in female zebra finches.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Chemistry and Biology, Institute of Biology, Research Group of Ecology and Behavioral Biology, Adolf-Reichwein-Str. 2, 57068 Siegen, Germany.

ABSTRACT

Background: Mate-choice copying is a form of social learning in which an individual gains information about potential mates by observing conspecifics. However, it is still unknown what kind of information drives the decision of an individual to copy the mate choice of others. Among zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis), only females (not males) copy the mate choice of others. We tested female zebra finches in a binary choice test where they, first, could choose between two males of different phenotypes: one unadorned male and one male artificially adorned with a red feather on the forehead. After this mate-choice test, females could observe a single unadorned male and a pair of zebra finches, i.e. a wild-type female and her adorned mate. Pair interactions were either restricted to acoustic and visual communication (clear glass screen between pair mates) or acoustic communication alone (opaque screen between pair mates). After the observation period, females could again choose between new males of the two phenotypes in a second mate-choice test.

Results: In experiments with a clear glass screen, time spent with the respective males changed between the two mate-choice tests, and females preferred adorned over unadorned males during the second mate-choice test. In experiments with an opaque screen, time spent with the respective males did not change between the two mate-choice tests, although females lost an initial preference for unadorned males.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that the quality of the received public information (visual and acoustic interaction of the observed pair) influences mate-choice copying in female zebra finches.

No MeSH data available.


Experimental setup. Experimental setup, top-view. Grey zones are mate-choice zones. Grey male symbol = adorned male, black male symbol = unadorned male. Bold bars are opaque screens. Thin lines within the cages represent perches. The dotted line represents the clear glass screen (the opaque screen was positioned in the same way). 1st test = first mate-choice test, obs. period = observation period, 2nd test = second mate-choice test
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Fig2: Experimental setup. Experimental setup, top-view. Grey zones are mate-choice zones. Grey male symbol = adorned male, black male symbol = unadorned male. Bold bars are opaque screens. Thin lines within the cages represent perches. The dotted line represents the clear glass screen (the opaque screen was positioned in the same way). 1st test = first mate-choice test, obs. period = observation period, 2nd test = second mate-choice test

Mentions: Experiments were conducted in November and December 2010 in an air-conditioned room without windows (2.20 × 2.10 × 2.40 m3) under the same conditions as in the aviary room. The mate-choice copying experiments were performed in cages (49 × 43 × 50 cm3); stimulus males were placed side by side, and the cage of the test female (97 × 43 × 52 cm3) was placed in front of them (Fig. 2). Each cage contained water, food, and sand ad libitum in little bowls on the ground, and four perches: one low perch parallel and near to the front (10 cm above the bottom of the cage), one high perch parallel and near to the backside (35 cm) and two additional perches parallel to the side of the cage in middle height (20 cm). The cage of the test female had two additional perches of choice in middle height. The cage of the pair was constructed slightly different. In the middle of the cage, on the ground and under the ceiling, we installed a plastic guide rail. The wire mesh on the back of the cage was separated in half and allowed enough space to enter a screen, guided by the plastic rail. In treatment one, we used a clear glass screen, in treatment two we used a grey opaque plastic screen. These screens divided the cage in two halves. Perches were fixed at the same height and position as in the other cages, but the two perches parallel to the front of the cage were divided in two halves. They were fixed at the ceiling with square-shaped timber (diameter 1.5 cm). This allowed us to keep the pair in the same cage, but separate them with a screen. Both screens prevented physical interactions, although the male and the female could sit close to each other. The clear screen allowed visual and acoustic communication, whereas the opaque screen additionally prevented visual communication and only allowed acoustic communication.Fig. 2


Quality of public information matters in mate-choice copying in female zebra finches.

Kniel N, Schmitz J, Witte K - Front. Zool. (2015)

Experimental setup. Experimental setup, top-view. Grey zones are mate-choice zones. Grey male symbol = adorned male, black male symbol = unadorned male. Bold bars are opaque screens. Thin lines within the cages represent perches. The dotted line represents the clear glass screen (the opaque screen was positioned in the same way). 1st test = first mate-choice test, obs. period = observation period, 2nd test = second mate-choice test
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4591742&req=5

Fig2: Experimental setup. Experimental setup, top-view. Grey zones are mate-choice zones. Grey male symbol = adorned male, black male symbol = unadorned male. Bold bars are opaque screens. Thin lines within the cages represent perches. The dotted line represents the clear glass screen (the opaque screen was positioned in the same way). 1st test = first mate-choice test, obs. period = observation period, 2nd test = second mate-choice test
Mentions: Experiments were conducted in November and December 2010 in an air-conditioned room without windows (2.20 × 2.10 × 2.40 m3) under the same conditions as in the aviary room. The mate-choice copying experiments were performed in cages (49 × 43 × 50 cm3); stimulus males were placed side by side, and the cage of the test female (97 × 43 × 52 cm3) was placed in front of them (Fig. 2). Each cage contained water, food, and sand ad libitum in little bowls on the ground, and four perches: one low perch parallel and near to the front (10 cm above the bottom of the cage), one high perch parallel and near to the backside (35 cm) and two additional perches parallel to the side of the cage in middle height (20 cm). The cage of the test female had two additional perches of choice in middle height. The cage of the pair was constructed slightly different. In the middle of the cage, on the ground and under the ceiling, we installed a plastic guide rail. The wire mesh on the back of the cage was separated in half and allowed enough space to enter a screen, guided by the plastic rail. In treatment one, we used a clear glass screen, in treatment two we used a grey opaque plastic screen. These screens divided the cage in two halves. Perches were fixed at the same height and position as in the other cages, but the two perches parallel to the front of the cage were divided in two halves. They were fixed at the ceiling with square-shaped timber (diameter 1.5 cm). This allowed us to keep the pair in the same cage, but separate them with a screen. Both screens prevented physical interactions, although the male and the female could sit close to each other. The clear screen allowed visual and acoustic communication, whereas the opaque screen additionally prevented visual communication and only allowed acoustic communication.Fig. 2

Bottom Line: Among zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis), only females (not males) copy the mate choice of others.After the observation period, females could again choose between new males of the two phenotypes in a second mate-choice test.Our results demonstrate that the quality of the received public information (visual and acoustic interaction of the observed pair) influences mate-choice copying in female zebra finches.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Chemistry and Biology, Institute of Biology, Research Group of Ecology and Behavioral Biology, Adolf-Reichwein-Str. 2, 57068 Siegen, Germany.

ABSTRACT

Background: Mate-choice copying is a form of social learning in which an individual gains information about potential mates by observing conspecifics. However, it is still unknown what kind of information drives the decision of an individual to copy the mate choice of others. Among zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis), only females (not males) copy the mate choice of others. We tested female zebra finches in a binary choice test where they, first, could choose between two males of different phenotypes: one unadorned male and one male artificially adorned with a red feather on the forehead. After this mate-choice test, females could observe a single unadorned male and a pair of zebra finches, i.e. a wild-type female and her adorned mate. Pair interactions were either restricted to acoustic and visual communication (clear glass screen between pair mates) or acoustic communication alone (opaque screen between pair mates). After the observation period, females could again choose between new males of the two phenotypes in a second mate-choice test.

Results: In experiments with a clear glass screen, time spent with the respective males changed between the two mate-choice tests, and females preferred adorned over unadorned males during the second mate-choice test. In experiments with an opaque screen, time spent with the respective males did not change between the two mate-choice tests, although females lost an initial preference for unadorned males.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that the quality of the received public information (visual and acoustic interaction of the observed pair) influences mate-choice copying in female zebra finches.

No MeSH data available.