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How Long Will Newts Wait? an Experiment To Test an Assumption of a Causal Model of the Courtship of the Male Smooth Newt, Triturus V. Vulgaris

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The NEWTSEX model simulates the behavioural transition between two parts of newt courtship, Retreat Display and Creep, and models the interaction between four causal factors: the behaviour of the female, the male's spermatophore supply, his need for oxygen, and feedback from the male's own behaviour. The model predicts that, if feedback from the female is witheld at a critical point (Tail-touch), the male will revert from Creep to Retreat Display after an interval, the duration of which is proportional to his spermatophore supply. The results of an experiment in which the female's behaviour was controlled support this prediction, but a high level of variance in the results suggests that respiratory constraints on male courtship behaviour require further investigation.

Affiliations: 1: Brain and Behaviour Research Group, Department of Biology, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, U.K; 2: Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, U.K


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