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Sexual Selection and Mating Systems: Contributions from a Neotropical Passerine Model

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Behavioral Ecology of Neotropical Birds

Abstract

The process of sexual selection results from mating advantages gained when members of one sex, usually males, compete for access to the other sex, and when competitors in better condition or bearing more extravagant ornaments are selected by individuals of the opposite sex, usually females. These ideas, published in detail by Darwin in 1871, led to the foundation of modern theory describing animal breeding systems, and are still instigating numerous researchers in ongoing studies that seek to understand reproductive phenomena in animals. Sexual selection promotes adaptations in behavior, morphology, and physiology, and also is an agent of speciation. In the first part of this chapter, we present an overview of sexual selection theory and some of the major advances in the last few decades. We then present work that we have developed within the scope of sexual selection theory, using as a model a small Neotropical passerine, the blue-black grassquit (Volatinia jacarina). We describe general parameters of this species and why it is an ideal model to study sexual selection. We follow this with a summary of field and laboratory methods we have used, and then address conceptual topics subdivided into four major categories: (1) parasite-mediated sexual selection; (2) social and sexual mating systems; (3) female choice; and (4) the evolution of sexual ornamentation.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Juan C. Reboreda, Vanina D. Fiorini, and Diego T. Tuero, editors of this book, for the invitation to submit a chapter. We thank Jeff Podos and Paulo Llambías for reviewing a previous version of this chapter and providing excellent and creative suggestions for improving the text. We would also like to acknowledge the dozens of undergraduate and graduate students who, through the years, have worked with the grassquits in the lab and in the field.

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Macedo, R.H., Manica, L.T. (2019). Sexual Selection and Mating Systems: Contributions from a Neotropical Passerine Model. In: Reboreda, J., Fiorini, V., Tuero, D. (eds) Behavioral Ecology of Neotropical Birds. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-14280-3_4

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