Environmental effects on mate choice dynamics in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Fisher, Michael Owen (2005) Environmental effects on mate choice dynamics in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Several aspects of the mating preferences of male and female zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, were examined. In particular, the role of the dominance status and breeding competence in mate selection was studied. Factors that may influence the preferences of pair-bonded birds, such as relative breeding success and relative nutritional condition, were investigated. In addition, experiments were conducted that looked at the effects of neonatal nutritional environment on adult traits that have been linked with mate choice. In many cases, mating preferences were dependent on the choosiness (i.e. effort invested in mate assessment) and status (i.e. age and prior experience) of birds. Only the choosiest males preferred competently breeding females, and these males also tended to prefer relatively heavy mates and mates that had received high-quality neonatal nutrition. Older, more experienced males tended to prefer females that were relatively heavy, possessed intermediate bill colours and were from a high-quality nutritional background. Similarly, relatively old, experienced females preferred competent breeders rather than naive males. Zebra much pair bonds were generally strong; the majority of birds affiliated more with their established partner than they did with alternative mating options, regardless of prior breeding success. The strength of female preference for an established partner, however, was reduced by reproductive failure. Bond stability was also higher among pairs in which birds were relatively heavy, males were relatively old and females were relatively young. The impact of a neonatal nutritional deficit on adult morphology was dependent on the severity of the nutritional restriction. Generally, birds that experienced a deficit exhibited a varying degree of compensatory growth. Antioxidant capacity, which is thought to determine the expression of male secondary sexual traits, was highest among individuals aged 4 months that had experienced fast neonatal growth, rather than among those that showed slow early growth and then compensated. However, among birds aged approximately 17 months, the highest antioxidant capacities were found among birds that received low-quality neonatal nutrition but compensated little subsequently. Male song learning was impaired by neonatal nutritional deficit, which is consistent with previous work. In contrast, a poor developmental nutritional. Thesis abstract environment itself produced no adverse effect on adult performance on an associative learning task. Associative learning performance was worst, however, in those individuals that grew relatively fast, and thereby compensated, subsequent to a nutritional deficit.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Pat Monaghan
Keywords: Behavioral sciences
Date of Award: 2005
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2005-74107
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74107

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