Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Female preferences, male decision rules and the evolution of leks in the great snipe Gallinago media

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1990
Authors:H, Robertson, JGM
Journal:Animal Behaviour
Date Published:1990
ISBN Number:0003-3472
Keywords:Gallinago, Gallinago gallinago, Gallinago media, Scolopacidae
Abstract:On the leks of great snipe, dominant, subdominant and subordinate males can be distinguished. Dominant males display in more central territories than subdominant and subordinate males. Therefore females may prefer central males and males may compete for central territories (the position hypothesis). Alternatively, dominant males may be more attractive to females than other males. If so, less dominant males may gather around dominants attempting to intercept females on their way to a dominant male (the attractiveness hypothesis). Thus, the central position of dominant males may be a consequence instead of a cause of high mating success. To discriminate between these two hypotheses, a male removal experiment was performed. When dominant males were removed, the territories were left unoccupied by neighbouring males. When subdominant or subordinate males were removed these territories were immediately occupied. When a stuffed male was presented together with a playback of a natural call within male territories, dominant males ignored the decoy whereas other males approached and/or attacked it. Male dominance scores and display rates were both correlated with mating success on a small (ca. seven males) lek on which there were no position effects. These results support the attractiveness hypothesis and contradict the position hypothesis. Thus male aggregations during the mating period (leks) may have evolved because some males are unable to attract females on their own. The best mating strategy for such males would be to associate with attractive males.
Short Title:Animal Behaviour
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith