A proxy of social mate choice in prairie warblers is correlated with consistent, rapid, low-pitched singing
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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 69(8): 1275-1286.
In songbirds, female mate choice may be influenced by how well a male performs his songs. Performing songs well may be especially difficult if it requires maximizingmultiple aspects of performance simultaneously.We therefore hypothesized that, in a population of prairie warblers, the males most attractive to females would be those with superior performance in more than one facet of singing.We tested this prediction by comparing different aspects of song performance, as well as different combinations of these aspects, to determine which were the best predictors of first-egg date, which we took to be a proxy for social mate choice.We found that first-egg date was best predicted by a combination of song performance traits that included consistent performance, rapid rate, and low pitch. Female preference for males capable of physically challenging song performance may have contributed to the evolution of acoustically complex vocalizations in oscine songbirds, because if complex sounds are more difficult to perform, they may be favored by selection for signal reliability.
KeywordsBirdsong; Song performance; Mate choice; Warbler; Setophaga
Byers, Bruce E.; Akresh, Michael E.; King, David I. 2015. A proxy of social mate choice in prairie warblers is correlated with consistent, rapid, low-pitched singing. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 69(8): 1275-1286. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-015-1940-y.