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Sexual Imprinting in Female Zebra Finches: Changes in Preferences as an Effect of Adult Experience

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It has been shown that sexual imprinting in male zebra finches can be seen as a two stage process with an early acquisition period, where a sexual preference is established, and a consolidation process, where the early acquired preference is linked to sexual behaviour and stabilized. The consolidation process can, by the appropriate experimental design, be delayed until adulthood. In the course of consolidation, the initial preference for the foster species can be altered by exposure to a female of another species. Our results indicate that sexual imprinting in females is also a two stage process. In contrast to males, the consolidation period, at least under the experimental design used in this study, is longer than that obtained for males. It is speculated that the speed of consolidation could be enhanced by additional stimuli influencing female mate choice, as for example breeding facilities.

Affiliations: 1: Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensforschung, Fakultät Biologie Universitat Bielefeld, Postfach 100131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany

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