The role of static features of males in the mate choice behavior of female Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)

Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Behavioural processes (Impact Factor: 1.57). 06/2002; 58(1-2):97-103. DOI: 10.1016/S0376-6357(02)00023-2
Source: PubMed


In two experiments, we investigated the mate choice behavior of female Japanese quail toward taxidermically-prepared male models. Both experiments consisted of four phases: (1) habituation; (2) a pre-test in which two taxidermically-prepared models of male birds were presented; (3) observation in which the respective non-preferred male model was presented either alone or with another stimulus, and (4) a post-test in which male models were again presented alone. Results showed that focal females increased their preference for a non-preferred male model that they had previously observed with a live female (Experiment 1) or with a taxidermically-prepared female model (Experiment 2). Two control groups ruled out the possibility that focal females were choosing male models either because: (1) males were presented with an additional stimulus, or (2) females were choosing an area where they observed male models with other females. The findings suggest that female quail may utilize static, species-specific features of male conspecifics in mate choice.

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    • "Females with good or poor reproductive success faced two potential mates in a choice chamber: their previous mate and a male neighbor. Such a protocol was widely used to study mate preferences in previous studies (Collins 1994; Houtman and Falls 1994; Palokangas et al. 1994; Swaddle and Cuthill 1994; Buchholz 1995; Mateos and Carranza 1995; White and Galef 1999; Jones et al. 2001; Akins et al. 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Divorce and remating in birds can be described as strategies used to enhance reproductive success. Mate switching often occurs because pairs failed to brood at least one chick during the previous breeding season. In the present study, we evaluated the influence of reproductive success on female preferences in domesticated canaries (Serinus canaria). For that purpose, females previously paired and having reared young were placed in a choice test situation: They were allowed to choose between their previous mate and a familiar male (a male neighbor during the breeding period). During these choice tests, females tended to stay near their previous mate longer than near a male neighbor when their reproductive success was “good” (at least two chicks). On the other hand, females with “poor” reproductive success (one chick) did not show a preference for their previous mate. Furthermore, in the present study, we observed that during choice tests males reacted to the presence of their previous mate in a particular way, by gathering nest material. This behavior was more scarcely observed in neighbor males which, on the contrary, sang significantly more than previous mates did.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2006 · acta ethologica
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    • "model females mating with their nonpreferred males (Ophir & Galef, 2003a), or when presented with static, taxidermically prepared model females positioned near nonpreferred males (Akins et al., 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence from both field and laboratory is consistent with the hypothesis that animals can acquire mate preferences by observing the mating behavior of others. It is difficult, however, to distinguish social learning about mates from a host of other social effects on mating that do not produce changes in preferences. Examples are drawn from laboratory studies on mate choice in female and male Japanese quail that illustrate ways in which social cues influence mating decisions. Quail of both sexes use social cues to modify their mate choices, but the sexes use the information to serve different purposes. Female quail gain preferences for males seen mating with other females, whereas males avoid females that they had observed mating with other males. This sex difference in social learning provides an example of how costs and benefits of sexual behavior can shape decision-making processes. Implications of the influence of social learning on sexual selection are briefly discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2004 · Learning & Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: The body of this thesis is comprised primarily of two published papers (Chapters 2 and 3) and a third paper (Chapter 5) accepted for publication. All three investigate the influence of social information on mate choice in female Japanese quail, Corturniz japonica. In Chapter 1, I review the theoretical and empirical literature on mate choice and eavesdropping that are relevant to the main topics with which this thesis is concerned. I demonstrate, in Chapter 2, that female Japanese quail use information garnered from video images of males interacting with other females when subsequently choosing between the live males that appeared in the videos. The results of this experiment provide evidence of the utility of a technique to investigate social influences on the behavior of Japanese quail, and possibly, other avian species as well. In Chapter 3, I show that females use social information acquired by observing inter-male aggression to select mates, and provide evidence that the threat of injury posed by aggressive males influences females to select less aggressive males as mates. In Chapter 4, I provide a control for the possibility that females were not actually choosing to stay near less aggressive males in the experiments described in Chapter 3, but were preferring locations where those males had been seen engaged in agnostic interaction. Finally, in Chapter 5, I examine the role of sexual experience in determining whether when selecting a mate female quail copy the mate choices of other females or attend to the relative aggressiveness displayed by males engaged in intra-sexual competition when selecting a mate. I report that prior sexual experience is necessary for females to avoid the more aggressive of two males but not for expression of mate-choice copying. Taken together, the results of Chapters 3, 4 and 5 are consistent with the hypothesis that the relative costs and benefits of associating with dominant and submissive males may determine which type of male females will prefer as a partner. The view that females should invariably prefer dominant males because such males are likely to be a source of superior genes or can provide females with greater resources considers only the benefits and not the potential costs to females of consorting with relatively aggressive males. In Chapter 6 I summarize the major findings of the thesis, and then briefly describe a failed experiment to determine whether the technique developed in Chapter 2 could be used to examine effects of female observation of inter-male aggression on subsequent mate choice in the absence of audience effects, and discuss the conflicting selection pressures that Japanese quail of either sex may face.
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