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Data from: Flirting with danger: predation risk interacts with male condition to influence sexual display


de Moraes, Pedro Z.; Diniz, Pedro; Fernandez-Juricic, Esteban; Macedo, Regina H. (2019), Data from: Flirting with danger: predation risk interacts with male condition to influence sexual display, Dryad, Dataset,


Sexual signaling co-evolves with the sensory systems of intended receivers; however, predators may be unintended receivers of sexual signals. Conspicuous aerial displays in some species may place males at high risk of predation from eavesdropping predators. There are three different hypotheses to explain how signaling males can deal with increased predation risk: (1) males invest in survival by decreasing signal conspicuousness; (2) males invest in reproduction by increasing signal conspicuousness; and (3) male response is condition-dependent according to his residual reproductive value. Here, we used blue-black grassquits (Volatinia jacarina) to test these hypotheses, asking whether males modify leap displays under different levels of predation risk. Grassquit males develop an iridescent nuptial plumage and spend considerable time emitting a multimodal signal: while leaping from a perch, males clap their wings above their heads and emit a high-pitched short song. We exposed males to predator and non-predator playbacks while video recording their displays. We found interactions between predation risk and two male condition variables (ectoparasite infestation and proportion of nuptial plumage coverage) that influenced display behavior. Less parasitized males and those with higher proportion of nuptial plumage showed no change in display behavior, while more parasitized males and those with lower proportion of nuptial plumage increased the vigor of displays under predation risk. In other words, males with low residual reproductive value increased reproductive effort when there was a high risk of extrinsic death. Our study provides some empirical support for the terminal investment hypothesis.

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