Mate Choice in Captive American Kestrels, Falco sparverius, Parasitized by a Nematode, Trichinella pseudospiralis

Authors

  • Derin Henderson,

    1. Avian Science and Conservation Centre, and Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue
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  • David M. Bird,

    Corresponding author
    1. Avian Science and Conservation Centre, and Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue
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  • Manfred E. Rau,

    1. Avian Science and Conservation Centre, and Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue
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  • Juan J. Negro

    1. Avian Science and Conservation Centre, and Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Anne de Bellevue
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Avian Science and Conservation Centre, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, H9X 3V9 Canada.

Abstract

The American kestrel (Falco sparverius) — Trichinella pseudospiralis host-parasite association was used as a laboratory model to study the effect of a nematode infection on (1) mate choice of female kestrels and (2) competitive abilities of male kestrels during the breeding season. Females were given the opportunity to choose between infected and uninfected males. There was no significant difference in the proportion of females that chose uninfected (n = 18) over infected (n = 16) males. Eight of 11 competitions between infected and uninfected males exposed to a caged female and a nest box were dominated by uninfected males. Female kestrels seemed to base their choices on the intensity of display effort by the males; the experimental level of infection did not affect male courtship behaviour. Although T. pseudospiralis is known to debilitate American kestrels, parasitized males in mate-choice tests may have diverted energy from less important functions to court the females.

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