Mate preference does not influence reproductive motivation and parental cooperation in female zebra finches

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary
  • 2 Department of Limnology, University of Pannonia, Egyetem utca 10, H-8200 Veszprém, Hungary
  • 3 MTA-DE ‘Lendület’ Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, H-4010 Debrecen, Hungary
  • 4 Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK

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In socially monogamous species, low availability of sexually active unpaired individuals in the local population may constrain mate choice, resulting in mating with sub-optimal partners. Here we experimentally investigate whether female reproductive behaviour is different when paired with a preferred or a non-preferred male in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). First, we assessed female mating preferences using a four-way choice apparatus, then females were caged together with either their preferred or least-preferred male. Female reproductive motivation, assessed by the propensity of laying eggs within two weeks from pairing and clutch mass, did not differ between the two experimental groups. Females responded to mate removal by either increasing their care, so as to compensate for the lost care of their mate, or by significantly reducing incubation. This bimodal response was not explained by mate preference, nevertheless, we found that females with lower baseline (i.e., pre-manipulation) incubation effort were more likely to cease incubation during mate removal. Taken together, we found no evidence that female reproductive behaviour varies along with mate preference.

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