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Effects of breeding density and plumage coloration on mate guarding and cuckoldry in blue grosbeaks (Passerina caerulea)

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For species in which females mate outside of the pair bond, selection should favor male mate-guarding behaviors that minimize investment in genetically unrelated offspring. Mate guarding may impose costs by diverting time and energy from activities such as foraging and seeking extra-pair copulations, so males should adjust their mate-guarding behavior according to the risk of cuckoldry. In this study, we investigated cuckoldry and mate guarding in the blue grosbeak (Passerina caerulea L., 1758), a socially monogamous, territorial songbird. Fifty-three percent of nestlings were extra-pair, and 70% of nests had at least one extra-pair fertilization. Males with dull plumage coloration were more likely to be cuckolded than males with more brightly colored plumage, but duller males did not guard their mates more. Instead, males appeared to adjust mate-guarding behavior according to the attractiveness of neighbors. Males with more brightly colored neighbors guarded their mates more intensely than males with fewer colorful neighbors. These observations suggest that in the blue grosbeak, mate guarding is a context-dependent strategy that is adjusted according to the density and ornamentation of neighboring males.

Chez les espèces dont les femelles s'accouplent en dehors du lien de couple, la sélection devrait favoriser chez les mâles des comportements de surveillance du partenaire qui minimisent l'investissement dans les rejetons non apparentés génétiquement. La surveillance du partenaire peut imposer des coûts en détournant temps et énergie d'activités telles que la recherche de nourriture et la poursuite de copulations hors-couple; les mâles doivent donc ajuster leur comportement de surveillance du partenaire en fonction de leur risque d'être cocufiés. Notre étude examine l'infidélité et la surveillance des partenaires chez le guiraca bleu (Passerina caerulea L., 1758), un oiseau chanteur territorial et socialement monogame. Cinquante-trois pour cent des petits au nid sont d'origine hors-couple et 70 % des nids contiennent au moins un petit issu d'une fertilisation hors-couple. Les mâles au plumage de coloration terne ont plus de chances d'être trompés que les mâles au plumage plus brillamment coloré; toutefois, les mâles plus ternes ne surveillent pas plus leurs partenaires. Au contraire, les mâles semblent ajuster le comportement de surveillance de leur partenaire au pouvoir d'attraction de leurs voisins. Les mâles dont les voisins sont plus brillamment colorés gardent leur partenaire avec plus de soins que ceux qui ont moins de voisins bien colorés. Ces observations indiquent que la surveillance du partenaire chez le guiraca bleu est une stratégie qui varie selon le contexte et qui s'ajuste en fonction de la densité et de l'ornementation des mâles avoisinants.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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