Multiple song repertoire characteristics in the willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus): correlations with female choice and offspring viability

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Abstract

Male willow warblers have song repertoires which vary in complexity along several dimensions. We examined whether female choice, as measured by date of pairing, was based on these song characteristics in 4 different years. Pairing date was negatively correlated with song repertoire size in 1 year, and with song versatility in another year, but there was no consistent effect of any song characteristic on pairing throughout the years or in the pooled sample. The variable that best explained how soon a male pairs is male arrival date (only males that had settled territories before the first female arrived were considered in the analysis). This correlation is consistently significant in all years. This is most parsimonious ly interpreted as females choosing some habitat characteristic in the same way that males do. A small percentage of males (8.3%) attracted and paired with a second female. The likelihood of becoming polygynous was not explained by any measured song characteristic, but it was related to arrival date: early males were more likely to pair with two females. Males with large repertoires fledged more young in their primary nests, and there was a trend for the offspring of these males to have a greater probability of being recruited into the population. In conclusion, the results show that in most years there is no sexual selection by female preference on song characteristics, although the data on reproductive success is consistent with the idea of repertoire size being an indicator of male quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume47
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000

Keywords

  • mate choice
  • song complexity
  • song repertoire size
  • multiple ornaments
  • Phylloscopus trochilus
  • reproductive success
  • viability
  • EXTRA-PAIR PATERNITY
  • RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD
  • GREAT REED WARBLER
  • TIT PARUS-MAJOR
  • MATE CHOICE
  • SEXUAL SELECTION
  • REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS
  • ACROCEPHALUS-ARUNDINACEUS
  • TERRITORY QUALITY
  • FIELD EXPERIMENT

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