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Courtship display speed varies daily and with body size in the Ruffed Grouse ( Bonasa umbellus )

Abstract : Courtship displays are typically comprised of the same behavioral pattern, or patterns, repeated several times by males. Both the quantity and quality of the displays produced by a given male bird are not, however, constant. The number and/or quality of displays can decrease over time, indicating fatigue, or males can increase the number and/or quality as they display more, indicating a warm‐up period. Although there is evidence for fatigue or warm‐up periods for many types of courtship displays, data on motor components of avian courtship are scant, despite how commonly they are used. Here, we test whether drumming, a non‐vocal motor display, in male ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) changes in relation to the number of displays executed. Using a large number of recordings, our linear mixed models yielded a significant effect of cumulative number of drumming displays on the number of wingbeats per second, referred to as pulse rate. Across males, pulse rate is slowest when males begin drumming each day and increases until approximately 50 drumming displays have been produced. The rate of increase is also modulated by the nighttime low temperature such that cooler conditions are associated with lower pulse rates and a slower increase in pulse rate relative to the cumulative number of displays. Further, the maximum pulse rate recorded and average pulse rate after 50 displays is inversely correlated with body mass such that larger males are slower than smaller males. We suggest that the daily changes in pulse rate likely reflect a warm‐up period based upon the effects of cumulative drumming count and temperature on pulse rate. Whether these dynamic changes in the production of a motor display are informative to female grouse is unknown. However, we propose that daily changes in how motor displays are performed may be a common feature of avian courtship that has gone relatively unnoticed, despite the potential for motor performance to be a trait that is important for female mate choice.
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Contributor : Isabelle Charrier <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 5:16:36 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 8:00:48 AM


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Eloïse C. Déaux, Nicholas O'Neil, Ashley Jensen, Isabelle Charrier, Andrew Iwaniuk. Courtship display speed varies daily and with body size in the Ruffed Grouse ( Bonasa umbellus ). Ethology, Wiley, 2020, 126 (5), pp.528-539. ⟨10.1111/eth.13004⟩. ⟨hal-02990962⟩



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