Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 552–557

Multiple sexual advertisements honestly reflect health status in peacocks (Pavo cristatus)

Authors

    • Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, CNRS UMR 7103Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Bât. A
    • Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, CNRS UMR 5173Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
  • Michel Saint Jalme
    • Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, CNRS UMR 5173Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
  • Cécile Cagniant
    • Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, CNRS UMR 5173Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
  • Gabriele Sorci
    • BiogéosciencesUniversité de Bourgogne, CNRS UMR 5561
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-005-0958-y

Cite this article as:
Loyau, A., Saint Jalme, M., Cagniant, C. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2005) 58: 552. doi:10.1007/s00265-005-0958-y

Abstract

The evolution of multiple sexual traits remains controversial and poorly understood in evolutionary biology. In many bird species, males exhibit complex courtships involving feather ornaments and behavioral display. Multiple traits may convey information on the genetic and phenotypic quality of males. In particular, fixed characters, such as feather ornaments (produced once a year during the annual molt in many bird species) might convey information about past male condition (at the time of trait development); whereas flexible traits such as behavioral displays should be sensitive to present condition. Here we show that both flexible behavioral displays and fixed feather ornaments of peacocks, used by females to choose a mate, honestly reflect health status. Correlative data showed that peacocks with high display rate (the number of behavioral displays per hour) and a large number of tail eyespots had low levels of circulating heterophils, suggesting better health status. Experimental activation of the immune system, through LPS injection, significantly reduced display rate compared to a control group. However, the sensitivity of a male display rate to the immune challenge was dependent on the number of tail eyespots: males with higher number of tail eyespots were better able to cope with the experimental immune challenge, and maintained their display rate at levels closer to the levels performed before the immune activation. These results are consistent with the idea that multiple signaling might enhance information reliability.

Keywords

Female choiceImmune challengeMultiple traitsSexual selection

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005