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Male Courtship Displays, Ornaments and Female Mate Choice in Captive Red Jungle Fowl

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We studied the role of male courtship behaviour in female mate choice in red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), the ancestor of domestic chickens. The traits most highly correlated with behavioural displays were those most relied upon by females in making mate choice decisions. These traits (comb length, comb colour, eye colour, and spur length) are highly condition-dependent in jungle fowl. Females chose males that displayed at a greater overall intensity in the period after the female was allowed to interact with the males (post-release), but were indifferent to displays during the period before the female could approach the roosters (pre-release). After accounting for the effect of morphology on mate choice, waltzes were the only display that explained a significant amount of variation in male mating success. Chosen and rejected males had different display rates even when the female was not present. Plasma testosterone level was correlated with pre-release behaviours, but not with post-release behaviours or mating success.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside CA 92521 USA


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