Birds reveal their personality when singing

László Zsolt Garamszegi, Marcel Eens, János Török

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Individual differences in social behaviour may have consequences for mate choice and sexual signalling, because partners should develop preferences for personalities that maximize reproductive output. Here we propose that behavioural traits involved in sexual advertisement may serve as good indicators of personality, which is fundamental for sexual selection to operate on temperament. Bird song has a prominent and well-established role in sexual selection, and it displays considerable variation among individuals with a potentially strong personality component. Therefore, we predicted that features of song would correlate with estimates of personality. Methodology/Principal Findings: In a field study of free-living male collared flycatchers, Ficedula albicollis, we charaterised personality based on the exploration of an altered breeding environment, and based on the risk taken when a potential predator was approaching during a simulated territorial interactions. We found that explorative and risk-taker individuals consistently sang at lower song posts than shy individuals in the presence of a human observer. Moreover, males from lower posts established pair-bonds relatively faster than males from higher posts. Conclusions/Significance: Our results may demonstrate that risk taking during singing correlates with risk taking during aggression and with exploration, thus personality may be manifested in different contexts involving sexual advertisement These finding are in accordance with the hypothesis that the male's balance between investment in reproduction and risk taking is reflected in sexual displays, and it may be important information for choosy females that seeks partners with personality traits enhancing breeding success.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2647
JournalPloS one
Volume3
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 9 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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