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An Analysis of Sexual Isolation in the Domestic Fowl: 1. the Basis of Homogamy in Males

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(I) The basis of homogamy exhibited by the adult domestic cock was investigated because of its important role in effecting potential sexual isolation between breeds and strains of chicken. (2) The importance of female plumage coloration in breed 'identification' by males was determined by modification and other tests. (3) Female plumage coloration possesses isolating value, but more so in single than in multi-coloured breeds. In the latter, discriminating cocks responded additionally to other, unknown releasers. (4) Homogamy appeared to be a largely genetic trait in domestic cocks, as judged from social isolation experiments. Homogamic-heterosexual juvenile experience very slightly enhanced the expression of homogamy by adult males, homogamic-homosexual experience did not, however. (5) Homogamy, though a comparatively stable trait, was not irreversible and could be modified by certain types of juvenile and adult social environment. (6) The present findings are advanced as a contribution to knowledge of macro- and micro-evolutionary mechanisms in avian species.

Affiliations: 1: Ethology Section, A.R.C. Poultry Research Centre, Edinburgh 9, U.K.


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