Seasonal change in female mate choice criteria in Penduline Tits (Remiz pendulinus).

Authors: SCHLEICHER, B., HOI, H. and VALERA, F.

Published: Volume 43(1), June 1996. Pages 19-29.

Language: English

Keywords: male quality, mate choice, nest quality, nest size repeatability, Penduline Tit and Remiz pendulinus.


Most studies on intersexual selection are concerned with the significance of cues females use in the mate choice process. To date, not much attention has been paid to the possibility of changes in female choice criteria throughout a breeding season, in particular where choice cues include territory characteristics. This toptic was investigated in Penduline Tits (Remiz pendulinus). Previous studies revealed the importance of nest quality in Penduline Tit for female reproductive success and its role in female choice given benefits of improved insulation. However, one might predict that the insulation capacity of the nest is most important in the early breeding season, when the ambient temperature is expected to be low, and decreases across the breeding season. In line with this, other factors, such as male intrinsic quality (expressed in morphology or male display behaviour) could become more important later on. This study examines the importance of different mate choice cues throughout the breeding season by comparing the quality of chosen and not chosen males (considering both morphological and behavioural parameters), nest quality (considering size), and the variation in mating success among males. The results show a significant decrease in the importance of the nest with the season while male display behaviour becomes more important. Nest size does not change throughout the breeding season, and there is also a significant repeatability in nest size within successive nests of one male. Thus, the decreasing importance of nest size for female choice is not reflected in male nest building behaviour. Rather, the significant repeatability indicates that male nest building skill may have a genetic determinant.

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