The Costs of Male Display and Delayed Plumage Maturation in the Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

Authors

  • Ken Collis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park
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      Collis, K. & Borgia, G. 1993: The costs of male display and delayed plumage maturation in the satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). Ethology 94, 59–71.

  • Gerald Borgia

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park
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    • 3

      Collis, K. & Borgia, G. 1993: The costs of male display and delayed plumage maturation in the satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). Ethology 94, 59–71.


Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, 729 N.E. Oregon, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97232, USA.

Abstract

The costs associated with the evolution of male display traits has attracted much attention in regard to the type of traits that evolve and the timing of their expression. We investigate these costs by using testosterone implants to alter the development of male display traits in the satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). Testosterone implants advanced the development of adult display traits in males with juvenile plumage. We then measured the costs of early expression of these characters in treated males. Testosterone implants caused young males to (1) become more involved in behavior normally carried out by older males when visiting bowers, (2) build bowers, and (3) molt prematurely into an adult plumage. No difference was observed between the testosterone-treated birds and controls in return rate or condition the year following treatment, suggesting that the physical costs of display are not high. We found that males in adult plumage are tolerated less, and are not displayed to as frequently as juvenile plumage males at the bowers of established bower holders. The causes of delayed plumage maturation are most consistent with the facilitated-learning hypothesis. That is, early development of adult characteristics reduces the opportunity of young males to learn display behavior critical for later reproductive success.

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