, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 23-29

Sexual behavior is related to badge size in the house sparrow Passer domesticus

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Badge size, which functions as a signal of dominance status in male house sparrows Passer domesticus, was significantly related to their sexual behavior. Males with large badges participated in communal displays (multi-male chases directed towards single females) more often than males with small badges, irrespective of whether the female involved was the male's mate or not. Experimentally released females were more often chased if they were fertile than if they were nonfertile. Estradiol-implanted females were chased more often than control females without a hormone implant, and males with large badges chased estradiol-implanted females more often than did males with small badges. Both forced extra-pair copulations during communal displays and unforced extra-pair copulations were more often achieved by males with large than small badges. Male house sparrows with large badges also copulated with their mates at a higher rate than did males with small badges. A higher certainty of paternity therefore is hypothetized to accrue to male house sparrows with large badges.