Does foraging behaviour affect female mate preferences and pair formation in captive zebra finches?
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Background: Successful foraging is essential for survival and reproductive success. In many bird species, foraging is a learned behaviour. To cope with environmental change and survive periods in which regular foods are scarce, the ability to solve novel foraging problems by learning new foraging techniques can be crucial. Although females have been shown to prefer more efficient foragers, the effect of males' foraging techniques on female mate choice has never been studied. We tested whether females would prefer males showing the same learned foraging technique as they had been exposed to as juveniles, or whether females would prefer males that showed a complementary foraging technique. Methodology/Principal Findings: We first trained juvenile male and female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to obtain a significant proportion of their food by one of two foraging techniques. We then tested whether females showed a preference for males with the same or the alternative technique. We found that neither a male's foraging technique nor his foraging performance affected the time females spent in his proximity in the mate-choice apparatus. We then released flocks of these finches into an aviary to investigate whether assortative pairing would be facilitated by birds taught the same technique exploiting the same habitat. Zebra finches trained as juveniles in a specific foraging technique maintained their foraging specialisation in the aviary as adults. However, pair formation and nest location were random with regard to foraging technique. Conclusions/Significance: Our findings show that zebra finches can be successfully trained to be foraging specialists. However, the robust negative results of the conditions tested here suggest that learned foraging specializations do not affect mate choice or pair formation in our experimental context.
Boogert , N J , Bui , C , Howarth , K , Giraldeau , L-A & Lefebvre , L 2010 , ' Does foraging behaviour affect female mate preferences and pair formation in captive zebra finches? ' PLoS One , vol 5 , no. 12 , e14340 . DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014340
© 2010 Boogert et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
DescriptionThis research was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada discovery grants to LL and L-AG. NJB was financially supported by a Dr. Richard H. Tomlinson Fellowship and a Dr. Milton Leong Fellowship from McGill University. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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