Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 30, Issue 3–4, pp 165–176 | Cite as

Competition for a mate restricts mate search of female pied flycatchers

  • Svein Dale
  • Helge Rinden
  • Tore Slagsvold


We studied the mate sampling behaviour of female pied flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca, in a 40-ha area containing 10–12 unmated males whose nestboxes were monitored with videocameras. The main results were: (1) The females undertook a restricted mate search. The females that mated in the area during three monitoring periods (n = 20, 12 females released by us and 8 females that arrived naturally) sampled 1–10 males (median 4.5). This was about 40% of the available mating options. (2) Search costs in terms of time and energy were low. The search period was short (median 5.1 h) and only a small proportion of the search period was spent at the nestboxes of males (median 4%). The females visited up to seven different males in 1 h, and the time elapsing between visits to different males was short (median 13 min). The minimum distance travelled during the search was also short (median 1.4 km). (3) There was competition between the females. We recorded seven cases of two females visiting the same male at the same time, including at least one case involving physical fighting. (4) Females that experienced a high level of competition had a more restricted mate search than females that experienced a low level of competition. (5) The search pattern of most of the females did not conform to the best-of-n-males rule nor to the threshold criterion rule, because they made repeated visits to many of the males sampled.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Svein Dale
    • 1
  • Helge Rinden
    • 1
  • Tore Slagsvold
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Zoology, Department of BiologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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