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Differential allocation in relation to mate song quality in the Bengalese finch

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Postmating sexual selection plays an important part in the evolution of secondary sexual characters. Based on differential allocation theory that predicts biased reproductive investment of females depending on the attractiveness of mates, a number of previous studies have shown that egg production is related in various ways to ornamental sexual traits of males, but evidence for behavioural sexual traits is less abundant. In this study we examine such maternal effects in relation to birdsong. Because the Bengalese finch is a monomorphic songbird, courtship song serves a key role in mate choice. To take into account individual female differences in egg production performance, we sequentially paired naïve, captive, female Bengalese finches to two different males, and investigated if their reproductive investment (clutch size, egg mass and hatchling sex ratio) was related to the song traits of their mates. We found that clutch size and egg mass were highly repeatable within individual females while sex ratio was not. Despite the inflexibility of egg mass within each female, egg mass increased when females were mated to males with longer songs. In addition, we found a non-significant weak tendency toward male-biased sex ratio in relation to longer song duration of mates. Our findings suggest that females mated to better mates adjusted their reproductive investment by producing heavier eggs and possibly offspring of the more costly sex.

Affiliations: 1: aLaboratory for Animal Behaviour and Intelligence, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University, Kita 10, Nishi 8, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0810, Japan; 2: bCognitive and Behavioural Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan


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