Extrapair paternity and the evolution of bird song

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László Zsolt Garamszegi ; Anders Pape Møller (2004)
  • Journal: Behavioral Ecology, volume 15, issue 3 May, pages 508-519
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1093/beheco/arh041
  • Subject: bird song; evolution; extrapair paternity; generalized least squares; meta-analysis; repertoire size; sexual selection
    mesheuropmc: behavior and behavior mechanisms

Bird song is usually considered to have evolved in the context of sexual selection. Because extrapair paternity is a major component of sexual selection, mating advantages at the social level for males that produce songs of high quality may be transformed into higher success in extrapair paternity. Therefore, males with longer and more complex songs should suffer less from extrapair paternity intraspecifically, whereas species with high rates of extrapair paternity, reflecting intense sperm competition, should produce more elaborate songs. Although some intraspecific studies demonstrated a negative link between features of songs and extrapair paternity in own nest, others failed to detect such a relationship. Contrary to expectation, a meta-analysis of all studies revealed no significant intraspecific evidence for songs being associated with extrapair paternity. In addition, in comparative analyses based on generalized least squares (GLS) models, we found that no measures of song complexity and temporal output were significantly related to extrapair paternity interspecifically, even when potentially confounding factors such as social mating system, life history, migration, habitat, or sexual dichromatism were held constant. Only plumage dichromatism was significantly related to extrapair paternity. The absence of both intra- and interspecific relationships between measures of song variability and extrapair paternity suggests that factors other than postmating sexual selection have been the important evolutionary forces shaping differences in song. Copyright 2004.
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