Theft of bower decorations among male Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus): why are some decorations more popular than others?

Wojcieszek, J. M., Nicholls, J. A., Marshall, N. J. and Goldizen, A. W. (2006) Theft of bower decorations among male Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus): why are some decorations more popular than others?. Emu, 106 3: 175-180. doi:10.1071/MU05047


Author Wojcieszek, J. M.
Nicholls, J. A.
Marshall, N. J.
Goldizen, A. W.
Title Theft of bower decorations among male Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus): why are some decorations more popular than others?
Journal name Emu   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0158-4197
Publication date 2006-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/MU05047
Volume 106
Issue 3
Start page 175
End page 180
Total pages 6
Place of publication Collingwood
Publisher Csiro Publishing
Language eng
Subject C1
270707 Sociobiology and Behavioural Ecology
780105 Biological sciences
Abstract Male Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) build stick structures known as bowers that serve as the focus for courtships and matings. Males decorate their bowers with numerous coloured decorations and are known to steal these decorations from one another. We investigated the stealing of bower decorations among males at the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, Australia. We aimed to (1) determine which classes of decorations were targets for theft in the studied population, and (2) examine whether the frequency at which individual decorations were stolen related to their intrinsic properties. To address our first aim, all decorations on the bowers of 21 adult males were labelled and their movements tracked throughout one mating season. To address our second aim, decorations stolen at least three times during the season were collected and their morphological and reflectance properties compared to those of decorations that were not stolen. In terms of the classes of decorations, tail feathers of Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) were stolen more than any other class of decoration, but blue plastic bottletops were the most popular decorations relative to their availability on bowers. Frequently stolen individual decorations were similar to non-stolen items in their weights and surface areas, but were darker blue in colour than the decorations never stolen. Both bottletops and feathers reflected higher levels of ultraviolet (UV) light than did all other classes of bower decorations tested, thus suggesting that males may be using UV reflectance in sexual signalling. The darker blue, stolen decorations may increase contrast between the decoration collection and the platform, while the UV-reflecting subset of most frequently stolen decorations (bottletops and feathers) may increase contrast within the decoration collection. This in turn may increase the attractiveness of the display to females.
Keyword Ornithology
Color-vision
Quality
Plumage
Birds
Preferences
Ornaments
Evolution
Displays
Patterns
Systems
Q-Index Code C1

 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 19:24:26 EST