Mate choice copying and conspecific cueing in Japanese quail,Coturnix coturnix japonica
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In four experiments, we examined the effects on the affiliative preferences of 'focal' female Japanese quail given the opportunity to watch a conspecific male interact with a 'model' female. Experiments were conducted in three, 10-min phases: (1) a pretest, during which a 'focal' female chose between two males; (2) an observation phase, when each focal female watched the male she had spent less time near during the pretest (her 'nonpreferred' male) interact with a 'model' quail; and (3) a post-test, during which each focal female again chose between her nonpreferred and preferred males. Focal females increased their preferences for nonpreferred males after seeing them together with a model female (but not a model male), even if the nonpreferred male and model female were separated by an opaque barrier that prevented them from interacting. A focal female's preference for the end of the enclosure containing her nonpreferred male was not increased when she either watched him court a concealed model female or watched a model female that was being courted by him. Taken together, the present results suggest that a simple tendency for females to approach areas where they have previously seen a male and female quail, in preference to locations where they have seen only a male quail, can explain some of the effect of watching a nonpreferred male mate on a female's tendency to affiliate with him. However, focal females also showed enhanced preferences for nonpreferred males they had seen mating after we both moved those males and controlled for effects of transposition. Thus, processes akin to both 'mate choice copying' and 'conspecific cueing' remain viable explanations for the increase in a focal female quail's tendency to affiliate with a male she watched mate with another female. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
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