Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Find Male Finches Frugal In Their Attempts To Attract Females

Date:
February 7, 2005
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
Attracting a mate can be a costly endeavor, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientist, but new experiments he helped lead show that some male animals economize on courting when the chance of success seems low.

CHAPEL HILL – Attracting a mate can be a costly endeavor, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientist, but new experiments he helped lead show that some male animals economize on courting when the chance of success seems low.

Dr. Keith W. Sockman, assistant professor of biology in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences, studies mating behavior in songbirds and the songs that play such a central role in their reproduction.

"From people to praying mantises, individuals invest everything from their homes to their heads to attract a member of the opposite sex," Sockman said. "When male songbirds sing to attract a mate, they expend energy during times they could otherwise be foraging for seeds and grubs.

"They may also increase their exposure to predators," the biologist said. "This led us to predict that when females are in short supply or infertile, unmated males should reduce these 'costs' by singing less."

In a paper published in the new issue of the journal Biology Letters, Sockman and colleagues Dr. Thomas P. Hahn and Kendra B. Sewall of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Gregory F. Ball of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, report that male songbirds are frugal in their efforts to attract a mate.

Studying Cassin's finches, which breed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, the scientists found that males sang the most in response to the loss of a prospective mate but sang very little either in the presence of a mate or when females were unlikely to be nearby.

The researchers concluded that male Cassin's finches adjust their mate-attraction efforts according to their need for a mate and the likelihood of attracting one.

"But the story gets better," Sockman said. "After the breeding period was over, we determined the relative fertility of females by measuring when each began feather molt."

Because molt begins when fertility ends, the scientists could infer when each female had been at the peak of her fertility during the experiment when males were exposed to them.

"To our great surprise, we discovered that males somehow ascertain female fertility and sing the most when trying to attract the most fertile females," Sockman said. "Thus, males temper their efforts in attracting a mate depending on the likelihood of a payoff."

Dr. Mark E. Hauber is a behavioral ecologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and an expert in bird behavior.

"Since Darwin's writings, we have assumed that females are the choosy sex, but apparently males are being choosy in their own way," Hauber said. "They simply don't put in the effort for less fertile females.

"Economic decisions of this sort are likely adaptive because males would not incur large costs on investments yielding low returns," he said. "Now the question is how, exactly, a male bird determines the fertility status of potential partners."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Scientists Find Male Finches Frugal In Their Attempts To Attract Females." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050205075748.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (2005, February 7). Scientists Find Male Finches Frugal In Their Attempts To Attract Females. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050205075748.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "Scientists Find Male Finches Frugal In Their Attempts To Attract Females." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050205075748.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins