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Condition-Dependent Choosiness For Highly Attractive Songs in Female Canaries

Partner choice in animals has evolved under the effects of intra- and inter-sexual selection. Even if a consensus between females is often observed towards some males, certain females can drastically change their mating decision. Different conditions such as early learning, mate-choice copying, prior experience or subtle intrinsic factors can interfere with the decision. One of them is body condition of the females at the time of choosing. In this experiment, the flight feathers of female canaries Serinus canaria were cut, thus decreasing their flight ability. After a short period in a flight room, two types of artificial songs containing different tempi of the test A phrase (16 vs. 8 syllables per second) were played to these females. It is known that only A phrases with a high tempo provoke a high level of sexual response in females. Female preference was evaluated by counting the number of Copulation Solicitation Displays (CSDs). The results show that, in both (normal and physically reduced) conditions, females prefer songs containing an A16 phrase. However, the strength of this preference is lower in females with compromised body condition than in females from the control group, suggesting a decreased choosiness in the poor body condition females.