Do female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) copy each other's mate preferences?
Doucet, S.M.; Yezerinac, S.M.; Montgomerie, R.
Canadian Journal of Zoology 82(1): 7
ISSN/ISBN: 0008-4301 DOI: 10.1139/z03-210
We investigated whether female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) would alter their mate preferences after observing the choices of other females. Experimental trials consisted of four 30-min stages: (A) acclimation, (B) observer female chooses between two males, (C) observer female watches a model female interact with her nonpreferred male from stage B, and (D) observer female again chooses between the two males. Control trials were identical except that there was no model female in stage C. Females in both experimental and control trials spent significantly more time with the nonpreferred male in stage D than they had in stage B; thus, our experiment appeared to reveal no evidence of mate choice copying. There was, however, a significant positive relationship between the increase in the time that an observer female in experimental trials spent with her nonpreferred male in stage D and the number of interactions that she had previously observed between the model female and that male in stage C. A second experiment of similar design, where observer females were prevented from observing the model female and nonpreferred male interact in stage B, demonstrated that the behaviour of the observer female in the first experiment was not simply a response to changes in male behaviour in stage D. While our experiment does not support the hypothesis that female zebra finches copy each other's mate preferences, our findings suggest that public information may influence the behaviour of female zebra finches toward potential mates.