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Keywords:

  • acoustic signal;
  • visual signal;
  • courtship;
  • Houbara bustard;
  • individual signature;
  • lek

Abstract

Selection pressures acting on both intrasexual competition and intersexual relationships may lead to the emphasis of individual variation and might thus lead to the expression of individual signature. This is particularly true in lek mating systems, where providing information on identity and/or quality to potential mates or congeners of the same sex can be essential for individuals to optimize their reproductive success. Visual and acoustic signals produced during the courtship of the lekking North African Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata undulata), based on field data from wild birds, are investigated here for the first time. Results show that the vocal signals, called booms, are characterized by a very low frequency, a rare phenomenon in birds which should allow booms to propagate over long distances. Results also show that both visual and acoustic signals are individualized and stereotyped between males. Using three methods of analysis, we highlight the acoustic parameters likely to support vocal individual signature and show that such information mainly relies on frequency parameters.