Loss of preferred mates forces female satin bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) to increase mate searching

J. A.C. Uy, G. Patricelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Variation in mate choice among females can have important consequences for the operation of sexual selection, and can result from differences in the way females search for mates. Our previous work indicates that female satin bowerbirds Ptilonorhynchus violaceus alter their mate-searching patterns according to long-term experience. Females which mate with very attractive males mate with the same males in the following year, thereby reducing their search. In contrast, females which fail to encounter very attractive males typically reject their previous mates and search for more attractive males in the following year, thereby increasing their search. Here we report results from a natural experiment consistent with these observations. Five males, including the most attractive male of 1997, failed to re-establish display sites in 1998, most probably dying over winter. We monitored the mate-searching behaviour of females which mated with these males in 1997 to determine how the loss of attractive mates affects subsequent mate-searching patterns. Females which lost their mates sampled more males compared with their own search patterns in 1997 and with faithful females in 1998. Results from this natural experiment indicate that the loss of attractive and preferred mates forces females to increase their search and provide evidence that long-term experience with males shapes mate-searching behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-638
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1467
StatePublished - Mar 22 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Mate choice
  • Mate fidelity
  • Mate sampling
  • Mate searching
  • Satin bowerbirds
  • Sexual selection
  • Social learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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