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UF study: When singing mice choose a mate, a skillful song gets the gal
Date:6/15/2011

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Like rock stars of the rodent world, the flashiest performers of a Central American mouse species get the most attention from the ladies, a University of Florida study shows.

Neotropical singing mice woo their mates with high-pitched vocal trills, and a bravura performance attracts more interest from females, according to a study published online this week in the journal Animal Behaviour by doctoral candidate Bret Pasch and colleagues in the department of biology at the University of Florida.

The males' prowess could give female mice clues to a potential mate's physical quality. This may even extend to humans, where studies have shown that men's dancing may influence women's impressions of their quality as a mate. A 2005 Rutgers University study showed that women could identify men with better body symmetry an indicator of developmental stability just by watching their dance moves, even when rendered by motion-capture cameras so the men's body shapes were not visible.

"Elaborate courtship displays require fine coordination of the nervous, neuromuscular and cardiac systems. There is increasing evidence that females evaluate male skills during these displays to determine their overall vigor," Pasch said.

When it comes to singing, it's easy enough to identify characteristics that make a human excel an exceptional range, or the ability to hold a high note, for example but mice have different criteria. "What makes a great performance is how rapidly males can repeat notes while maintaining a large range of frequencies of each note," Pasch said. "Female preference seems to be based on how well males perform songs."

In the study, Pasch and his team demonstrated that, like birds, the Alston's singing mouse, or Scotinomys teguina, has biomechanical limitations to its trills: The faster it trills, the lower the range of frequencies in each note. Conversely, singing with high frequency bandwidth
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Contact: Bret Pasch
bpasch@ufl.edu
352-273-0142
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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