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Mate choice in zebra finches: does corticosterone play a role?

journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2007, 00:00 authored by M Roberts, Kate BuchananKate Buchanan, Andy BennettAndy Bennett, M Evans
The importance of stress as a factor in influencing life history strategies has received considerable attention in recent years, because it appears to have a substantial impact on an individual's behaviour and physiology. Birds respond to environmental and social stressors by the production of corticosterone, a glucocorticoid hormone released by the adrenal gland. In this experiment, we tested whether female zebra finches preferred males selected to produce low or high peak levels of circulating plasma corticosterone. Plasma corticosterone and testosterone levels of the males were recorded, as were morphometric measurements and perch activity. Spectrophotometric measurements were also taken from several putatively sexually selected regions of the males. The females preferred the males from the low corticosterone lines to the high corticosterone males. In addition to, and consistent with this effect, females preferred males with the lowest corticosterone titres. Male activity, testosterone level, body size and mass had no effect on female preference. Leg and beak brightness were important, however, as were the brightness and chromaticity of the male cheek patch. These results are discussed in relation to contemporary hypotheses in sexual selection, particularly in the context of stress-mediated signalling.

History

Journal

Animal behaviour

Volume

74

Issue

4

Pagination

921 - 929

Publisher

Baillière, Tindall and Cassell [etc.].

Location

London, England

ISSN

0003-3472

eISSN

1095-8282

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2007, The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour