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Sexual Imprinting in the Collared Dove (Streptopelia Decaocto)

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Although the occurrence of sexual imprinting has been demonstrated for doves, it is less well known how strong this effect is and which factors contribute to it. Therefore we examined whether cross-fostering collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto) to white ring doves (Streptopelia risoria) affected later mate preference and, also, whether the strenght of this preference depended on sex of the experimental birds, on the presence of siblings during rearing, on behaviour of the (foster)parents and on the behaviour of the stimulus birds during testing. Mate preferences were measured during choice tests using either stuffed or living stimulus birds, one of each species. The result showed (1) a strong effect of rearing species, but not of sex or presence of siblings on the later preference, (2) an overall bias towards preferring ring doves over conspecifics, both in tests using stuffed and tests using living stimulus birds, and (3) a tendency for the preference to shift towards collared doves with increasing age or testing experience. The findings indicate the occurrence of sexual imprinting in the collared dove and are compared with data on other species. The overall bias towards the ring dove was unexpected, but we suggest that this 'other species' bias may result from the same mechanisms which are responsible for the occurrence of an 'own species bias' in a number of other species.

Affiliations: 1: (Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen, The Netherlands


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