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Diet Quality Affects Mate Choice in Domestic Female Canary Serinus canaria


Alexandre Lerch, Laboratory of Compared Ethology and Cognition, University of Paris-Ouest, Nanterre – La Défense, 200 avenue de la République, 92000 Nanterre, France.


Mate choice is the result of intra- and intersexual selection. Even though a consensus between females is often observed in favour of some males, different constraints can affect their choice. Context (early learning, mate-choice copying, prior experience, etc) and/or condition (genetics, body condition, age, etc) can deflect the choice of a female from its ‘standard of beauty’. In domestic canaries Serinus canaria, females display their acceptance of a male by producing a particular sexual behaviour called ‘copulation solicitation display’ (CSD). Previous studies have shown that the number and intensity of these CSDs are more important when females listen to sexy ‘A’ phrases with a rapid tempo (A16) in comparison with A phrases with a slow tempo (A8). In this study, we assess the relationship between food quality (highly or poorly diversified food during a short period) and female choosiness towards these two types of phrases. We confirm that females discriminate between A16 and A8. Nevertheless, the difference between the number of sexual responses towards A16 and A8 is weaker among females with a poorly diversified food diet in comparison with females with a highly diversified food diet. This suggests that even a short-term modification of condition could decrease females’ selectivity towards high-value stimuli and increase their response rates towards low-value signals.