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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2020

Authors: Janisch, J; Perinot, E; Fusani, L

Title: Behavioural flexibility in the courtship dance of golden-collared manakins, Manacus vitellinus.

Source: Animal Behaviour 2020; 166: 61-71

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Fusani Leonida
Janisch Judith
Perinot Elisa

Vetmed Research Units
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

Courtship displays have been traditionally considered stereotyped behaviours. Many elaborate courtships are displayed in specific locations or in courts prepared by the displaying individuals. Sudden environmental events may alter the spatial structure of the displaying site, and individuals should be able to cope with such disruptions. In some mating systems, courtship is the only or main trait used in mate choice. This is the case in lek mating systems where male mating success is highly skewed and intense sexual selection may drive the evolution of elaborate courtship. The golden-collared manakin is a lekking species of the Neotropical forests. Males have an elaborate courtship display that includes a series of acrobatic jumps within a court delimited by small saplings. The courtship ends with a jump on one of the saplings, called the mating sapling, which invites the female to copulate. The display of each male follows a consistent routine that males establish at the beginning of the reproductive season. We hypothesized that males possess behavioural flexibility to adapt their courtship behaviour to unpredictable environmental changes. We investigated the effects of a sudden disruption of the court configuration by placing a piece of bark on the mating sapling. Males gradually established a new display sequence with an alternative mating sapling, demonstrating a high level of behavioural flexibility that suggests the involvement of motor learning. When the bark was removed, some males reverted to the original sequence, showing retention of the original display sequence. Our study provides evidence for the involvement of motor learning in the establishment and adjustment of elaborate courtship displays. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

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