Female choice in sage grouse: the roles of attraction and active comparison
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Previous studies of female choice in sage grouse Centrocercus urophasianus have implicated both the acoustic quality and repetition rate of the stereotyped strut display as putative cues for female choice. Stages in the choice process at which specific components of male courtship display influence female decisions were investigated using field observations of female pre-mating behavior. Females visited a subset of territorial males and then actively chose one of these as a mate. The order in which males were visited suggested that females searched until an acceptable mate was found, rather than employing a “best-of-n” tactic. Numbers of females visiting a male were related to differences in an acoustical component of display (inter-pop interval) whereas the probability that a visiting female mated was related to display rate (Table 3), indicating that initial attraction and active choice are influenced by different components of display. In addition, inter-pop interval and display rate tended to covary inversely (Fig. 1), suggesting that attraction and active choice may impose conflicting selection pressures on display performance.
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