Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 269–277 | Cite as

Bower decorations are good predictors of mating success in the spotted bowerbird

  • Joah R. Madden
Original Article


Variation in the mating success of males can often be predicted by considering measures of their exaggerated sexual traits. Male spotted bowerbirds Chlamydera maculata build and decorate elaborate structures—bowers—that function in mate choice. I show that numbers of certain decorations correlate with the mating success of the bower owner. Specifically, numbers of Solanum berries used as decorations, accurately predict variation in mating success over 2 years. I show a relationship between changes in rank berry number and changes in rank mating success. These predictive decorations differ from those shown to relate to mating success in another population of spotted bowerbirds, suggesting that the exact form of sexual display may differ between populations of the same species.


Female choice Inter-population differences Spotted bowerbird 



Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service kindly allowed me to work in Taunton National Park. L. Pitt and G. Porter at Taunton provided invaluable help in the field. I thank G. Anelay, D. Harris, G. Madgewick, A. Miles, N. Ockendon, and R. Sawle, for field assistance finding and measuring bowers and watching videotapes. I am particularly grateful to A. Balmford, A. Cockburn and B. Sheldon and two anonymous referees for their comments on this work, and to members of the behavioural ecology groups at Sheffield and Cambridge Universities for stimulating ideas. Statistical advice was provided by R. Green and R. Johnstone. T. Robson generously provided me with the camera plans. This work was supported by a NERC studentship and a grant from the Royal Society to A. Balmford.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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