Spatial and behavioural measures of social discrimination by captive male zebra finches: Implications of sexual and species differences for recognition research

Dana L.M. Campbell, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

All bird species reproduce sexually and individuals need to correctly identify conspecifics for successful breeding. Captive zebra finches are a model system for studying the factors involved in species recognition and mate choice. However, male zebra finches' behavioural responses in a spatial preference paradigm to a range of estrildid finch species, other than domesticated Bengalese finches, remain unknown. We investigated spatial and display responses of male zebra finch subjects to stimulus females between conspecific and four phylogeographically relevant finch species, in addition to female Bengalese finches. Surprisingly, male subjects did not show consistent spatial association with conspecific over heterospecific females. Overall, as predicted by sexual selection theory, the spatial proximity responses of males were less discriminatory compared to female zebra finches' responses tested previously using the same paradigm. However, male subjects showed consistently more behavioural displays towards female conspecifics than heterospecifics which were positively related to the behavioural display rates of the respective female stimuli. Some male behavioural responses, other than song, also showed significant differences between the different stimulus species and consistently differed across individual test subjects, with the most individual subject variation seen in choice trials between female conspecific and Bengalese finch stimuli. The results are important for the design and interpretation of future behavioural and neurobiological experiments on species recognition systems using the zebra finch as a model species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bengalese finch (Lonchura striata vars. domestica) mate preference
  • Recognition systems
  • Sexual displays
  • Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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