Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 10, pp 1633–1642 | Cite as

Here comes the sun: multimodal displays are associated with sunlight incidence

  • Paula Sicsú
  • Lilian T. Manica
  • Rafael Maia
  • Regina H. Macedo
Original Paper

Abstract

Conspicuousness of courtship signals in animals likely evolved to maximize mate attraction while minimizing predator detection. It is assumed, though largely unknown, that environmental and luminosity conditions affect the detectability of ornaments and motor displays and could thus strongly influence behavior. We combined visual models and behavioral observations to test whether the multimodal display of the blue-black grassquit (Volatinia jacarina) is influenced by environmental conditions, predicting that males should display more often in moments with high sunlight incidence upon their bodies. By displaying in such a context-dependent fashion, males would be able to maximize conspicuousness of their iridescent blue-black plumage and avoid displaying continuously, since the latter would involve higher energetic investment. We recorded the rates of both complete displays (leap with singing) as well as incomplete ones (singing while perched) for males during repeated 30-min focal observations in varying environmental situations in the field. We found that when bathed directly in sunlight, males increased their rates of displays, tending to exhibit more complete rather than incomplete displays in this condition and suggesting a potential trade-off between display types. Our results suggest that animals may adjust the timing and precise location of signal activity to improve the efficiency or likelihood of detection of some signal elements.

Keywords

Blue-black grassquit Contextual plasticity Courtship Iridescent plumage Motor display Sexual selection Visual signals 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Sicsú
    • 1
  • Lilian T. Manica
    • 1
  • Rafael Maia
    • 2
  • Regina H. Macedo
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Zoologia—IBUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Integrated Bioscience ProgramUniversity of AkronAkronUSA

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