The measure of a male

correlates of reproductive success differ when time for female assessment is less constrained

Karen Bayly, Christopher Evans

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Studies of male reproductive success in jungle and domestic fowl Gallus gallus have relied on tests in which females are required to choose between unfamiliar males. Results have consistently implicated static morphological features, particularly comb size, as the basis for choice. However, in nature fowl live in stable social groups. Females consequently often mate with familiar males. We examined the relationship between male reproductive success, morphology and behaviour under these conditions by studying groups of fowl in large aviaries. We tracked production of vocal signals and visual displays, and measured all of the morphological attributes previously shown to play a role in male attractiveness. Dominance status strongly influenced mating frequency, which was expected given the strongly hierarchical structure of flocks. When dominance was statistically controlled, only three other male traits were important, and two of these were vocal signals. There was a strong relationship between aerial alarm calling and successful copulation, which probably reflects both female choice and male perceived paternity. There was also a significant affect of food calling rate, attributable to female preference. Tail length was the only morphological feature that predicted mating frequency. These results contrast strongly with those of previous experiments. We suggest that the time available to females influences which traits they assess. Cues such as ornament size are readily available even in 'snapshot' simultaneous choice tests, while traits such as production of high-risk calls require integration over long periods. Choices made when selecting intra-and extra-group mates may also depend upon different criteria.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventASSAB 2003 - Canberra
Duration: 24 Apr 200327 Apr 2003


ConferenceASSAB 2003

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