Improving the sustainability of ex situ populations with mate choice

Many breeding programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plans® (SSPs) are not meeting goals for population size and genetic diversity due to failure of recommended pairs to breed successfully. According to AZA Population Management Center analyses, as many as 80% of recommended breeding pairs fail to produce young before […]

Is the ultraviolet waveband a special communication channel in avian mate choice?

There is growing evidence that ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths play an important role in avian mate choice. One of the first experiments to support this idea showed that female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) prefer UV-reflecting males to males whose ultraviolet reflection has been removed. The effect was very strong despite little or no UV reflection from […]

The effect of flicker from fluorescent lights on mate choice in captive birds

The visual systems of birds are hypothesized to have higher temporal resolution than those of humans, suggesting that they may be able to perceive the flicker emitted from conventional low-frequency fluorescent lights (LF; 100 Hz in Europe, 120 Hz in the U.S.A.). These lights are commonly used in the housing of captive birds and this […]

Experiments on colour ornaments and mate choice in king penguins

Research on animal ornaments used in mate choice has largely focused on males, particularly for bird species with sexually dimorphic coloured patches of feathers and integument. Relatively less information is available for coloured ornaments of sexually monomorphic species and the use of these ornaments during mate choice. The king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus, is a monogamous […]

Female kestrels gain reproductive success by choosing brightly ornamented males

Female choice with respect to male coloration, and its consequences for fitness, were studied in the European kestrel, Falco tinnunculus. In an aviary experiment, females preferred to approach bright males. Under natural conditions, bright males spent more of their time hunting than dull males. Females mated with bright males produced more offspring than those mated […]

Stress hormones and mate choice

A few recent studies have suggested that glucocorticoid stress hormones can play a role in sexual selection. In terms of mate choice, these studies have shown that individuals can exhibit preferences for mates with either low baseline or peak glucocorticoid levels. This appears to occur because stress hormones can be key mediators of many condition-dependent, […]

Changes in incubation sharing in one pair of captive California condors (Gymnogyps californianus)

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.1430130207.abs Three years of behavioral data were collected on incubation behavior in one pair of captive condors (Gymnogyps californianus) at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Data were collected from daily video tape reviews of the nest box. The amount of time each bird was in the nest box, and whether it was on […]

Enigmatic ornamentation eases male reliance on courtship performance for mating success

Female preferences are frequently invoked to explain the widespread occurrence of elaborate male ornaments, yet empirical data demonstrating such preferences are sometimes equivocal or even contradictory. In the wolf spider Schizocosa stridulans, despite evidence of strong female choice, prior research has been unable to link the conspicuous sexually dimorphic foreleg ornamentation of males to their […]

Female choice based on male spatial ability and aggressiveness among meadow voles

The way in which female mate choice, scramble competition and contest competition for mates interact to influence the evolution of male traits is poorly understood. We tested female preferences for males that varied in spatial ability and aggressiveness, traits likely to be selected by scramble and contest competition, respectively. Male meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, were […]

Mate choice rules in animals

We identify several fundamental properties of how females choose mates and propose statistical methods to test hypotheses about them. Virtually, all studies of mate choice have implicitly assumed that choice involves what we call strict preference. By that we mean that all the properties of a stimulus can be reduced to a single preference value […]