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Data from: Nest as an extended phenotype signal of female quality in the great reed warbler

Cite this dataset

Jelínek, Václav; Požgayová, Milica; Honza, Marcel; Procházka, Petr (2015). Data from: Nest as an extended phenotype signal of female quality in the great reed warbler [Dataset]. Dryad.


Extended phenotypes with signalling function are mostly restricted to animal taxa that use construction behaviour during courtship displays. However, they can be used also as post-mating signals of mate quality, allowing individuals to obtain reliable information about their partners. Nest size may have such a signalling function and a lot of indirect evidence supports this view. However, direct evidence based on an experimental approach is still widely missing. Here we test the role of nest size in post-mating signalling of mate quality in the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, a passerine with female-restricted nest-building behaviour. Based on observational data, clutch size, nestling weight, brood size and fledglings’ propensity to return to their natal site positively correlated with nest size. Moreover, we experimentally enlarged great reed warbler nests to investigate whether this manipulation affects male investment in feeding. We found that males fed their nestlings significantly more intensively on enlarged nests than those on control nests. This suggests that nest size in this species serves as a signal of female quality or willingness to invest in reproduction and that it pays males to enhance their feeding effort according to this signal. Thus, we provide convincing evidence that animal communication takes place through the extended phenotypes and that post-mating signalling of quality is not restricted only to males, but may function equally well in females.

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Czech Republic
Central Europe