Effects of male dominance and courtship display on female choice in the ring-necked pheasant
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Male traits and behaviours acting in mate choice and intrasexual competition are expected to be congruent. When studying their evolution, this often makes it difficult to differentiate between these two components of sexual selection. Studies are therefore needed on mate choice in conjunction with the role of displays and dominance. We present the results from two experiments conducted to investigate the effects of male dominance and courtship displays on female choice in the ring-necked pheasant, Phasianus colchicus, controlling for differences in morphological male traits. We found: (1) different courtship behaviours had different effects on female choice: females were mainly attracted by the feeding courtship behaviour, while another courtship display (the lateral display) was effective in producing the copulation-acceptance response by the females; (2) subordinate males performed the courtship behaviour before females less frequently than dominant males, and females reinforced intrasexual selection by choosing dominant males, and (3) subordinate males in visual contact with a dominant became less attractive to females. The results support the idea (armament-ornament model) that female pheasants may benefit from using traits selected in male-male competition as clues for mate choice.
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