Multimodal flight display of a neotropical songbird predicts social pairing but not extrapair mating success

Lilian T. Manica*, Jeff A. Graves, Jeffrey Podos, Regina H. Macedo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Models of sexual selection predict that socially monogamous females may gain direct or indirect (genetic) benefits by mating with multiple males. We addressed current hypotheses by investigating how, in the socially monogamous blue-black grassquit (Volatinia jacarina), male courtship and territory quality varied with social and extrapair paternity. Males of this tropical granivorous passerine exhibit multimodal displays integrating motor (leap displays) and acoustic components. Across 3 years, we found that extrapair paternity ranged from 8 to 34 % of all nestlings and from 11 to 47 % of all broods. Extrapair and socially paired male territories had similar seed densities. Females preferred to pair socially with males executing higher leaps, but no other male display characteristic associated with paternity loss and extrapair fertilizations. Extrapair and social mates did not differ in genetic similarity to female partners nor in inbreeding levels. Additionally, inbreeding and body condition of extrapair and within-pair nestlings did not differ. Thus, not only did we reject the direct benefits hypothesis for extrapair copulations, but our results also did not support the additive and nonadditive genetic benefits hypotheses. Instead, we found support for benefits through selection of potentially “good fathers,” specifically for females that chose to pair socially with males exhibiting enhanced performance in their displays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2039-2052
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number12
Early online date7 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Good genes
  • Multimodal signals
  • Polyandry
  • Sexual selection
  • Social monogamy


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