Navigation Links
Again, but faster! The spectacular courtship dance of a tiny bird
Date:6/3/2011

A small male bird called a golden-collared manakin performs a difficult, elaborate, physically demanding courtship dance. In new research, life scientists report that female golden-collared manakins select mates based on subtle differences in motor performance during these dances.

"The male jumps like he's been shot out of a cannon," said study co-author Barney Schlinger, professor and departmental chair of integrative biology and physiology and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA. "It's exquisite. He sails like an acrobat and lands perfectly on a perch, like a gymnast landing a flawless dismount. Not only is there power to his muscle contractions but incredible speed as well."

"The females prefer the males that perform the elements of the dance faster and demonstrate better motor coordination," said lead author Julia Barske, a UCLA graduate student and doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology. "Females prefer more active males that do more courtship activity."

"Julia's data show that the females select the males that completed elements of the courtship dance in 50 milliseconds over the males that took 80 milliseconds," Schlinger said.

The findings will be published in the print edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a leading British journal for biological sciences research, and are currently available in the journal's advance online edition.

The courtship dance reveals the male's neuromuscular capability, Schlinger said. Using miniature telemetry devices, Barske measured the birds' heart rates and found that while the heart rate is normally 600 beats per minute or lower, during the courtship display it can go as high as 1,300 beats per minute.

"This heart rate is extremely high; in the avian world, only hummingbirds have heart rates of 1,300 beats per minute," Barske said.

"Our data suggest the courtship display is a proxy for survival capability," Schlinger said. "To survive in the wild, it's an advantage to have extra neuromuscular capability. Being faster can enable a golden-collared manakin to escape a predator."

Golden-collared manakins (Manacus vitellinus) live in Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica. For the research, Barske spent three months in a rainforest near Gamboa, a town along the Panama Canal, not far from Panama City. She observed the birds for several hours daily, filmed 18 male birds with high-speed video and ultrahigh-speed cameras that produced 125 images per second, and recorded their courtship success.

Barske can tell the birds apart from their leg rings and the location of their display arenas. Golden-collared manakins live up to 14 years in the wild.

During the courtship dance, several males gather together in a small area, and each jumps from small tree to small tree while making a fast, powerful, loud snapping sound with his wings. He also does this wing-snap while perched. When the male lands on a perch, he rapidly turns to expose his feathers to the female.

It is "intense, physically elaborate, complex, accurate, fast behavior," Schlinger said.

The male performs these feats "not necessarily because he wants to, but because that's what the female rewards," Schlinger said. "If the female rewards a slightly faster behavior, then the males will get faster. We propose that elaborate, acrobatic courtship dances evolve because they reflect the motor skills and cardiovascular function of males."

During the six-month breeding season, a female will observe a group of four to six males "the patch of forest erupts in sound," Schlinger said and choose one to mate with. The male offers no help in raising the offspring.

Co-authors of the study are Leonida Fusani, a faculty member in the department of biology and evolution at Italy's University of Ferrara and a former postdoctoral scholar under Schlinger, and Martin Wikelski, a director of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and a faculty member at Germany's Konstanz University.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, as well as by the National Geographic Society.

In earlier research, Fusani conducted high-speed filming of male golden-collared manakins and performed a computer analysis that showed that each male has a unique dance, somewhat similar to how each gymnast performs differently from the others.

Schlinger has studied golden-collared manakins for 16 years because he "was so impressed with their fantastic behavior.

"Here is a very small, 17-gram bird that is living 14 years in the rain forest, telling everybody where they are," Schlinger said. "They are there year after year."

Female golden-collared manakins have a larger visual processing area in the brain than males, Schlinger's previous research has shown, suggesting that females have a fast visual processing speed that enables them to detect slight differences in the male's courtship dance.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Male Australian redback spiders employ courtship strategies to preserve their life
2. Urine sprays during courtship send mixed messages
3. A love game: Fish courtship more complex than thought
4. Texas A&M study finds courtship affects gene expression in flies
5. Spiders adjust courtship signals for maximum effect
6. A dinosaur dance floor
7. Paleontologists doubt dinosaur dance floor
8. The 2009 AAAS/Science dance contest winners are announced
9. Honey bees on cocaine dance more, changing ideas about the insect brain
10. Abundance of ladybugs in olive orchards is an indicator of health and sustainability
11. SLAC researchers reveal the dance of water
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/13/2017)... 2017 UBM,s Advanced Design and Manufacturing event ... emerging and evolving technology through its 3D Printing and ... alongside the expo portion of the event and feature ... focused on trending topics within 3D printing and smart ... event will take place June 13-15, 2017 at the Jacob ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ:   ... announces the appointment of independent Directors Mr. Robin D. ... Board of Directors, furthering the company,s corporate governance and expertise. ... Gino Pereira , ... forward to their guidance and benefiting from their considerable expertise ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... NEW YORK , April 4, 2017   ... solutions, today announced that the United States Patent and ... The patent broadly covers the linking of an iris ... the same transaction) and represents the company,s 45 th ... our latest patent is very timely given the multi-modal ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... 20, 2017  Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: ... galcanezumab for the prevention of migraine at the American ... place April 22-28, 2017, in Boston ... at AAN, including safety and patient outcomes data for ... a reduction in monthly migraine headache days among patients ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... 20, 2017 , ... NetDimensions appoints Bill Mastin, a learning technology veteran, as ... experience in the learning technologies industry, Mastin joins NetDimensions from the New York office ... (LTG). At LEO, Mastin served as SVP of the North America offices and prior ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... Parallel6™ , the leader ... announced today that they were named one of the 2017 Top 10 eClinical ... developments in the pharmaceutical industry. , “We take pride in honoring Parallel6 as one ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... HACKENSACK, N.J. and PETACH TIKVAH, Israel ... (NASDAQ: BCLI), a leading developer of adult stem cell technologies ... Chief Executive Officer, will present at the Alliance for Regenerative ... Investor Day on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 09:40 EDT ... Dr. Ralph Kern , MD, MHSc, Chief Medical Officer ...
Breaking Biology Technology: