Economy of mate attraction in the Cassin's finch

Keith W. Sockman, Kendra B. Sewall, Gregory F. Ball, Thomas P. Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Mate attraction can be costly. Thus, individuals should modulate it according to its probable benefits. Specifically, individuals should modulate mate-attraction efforts based on their need for, the probability of attracting, and the reproductive competence of prospective mates. We tested these predictions by monitoring song output in laboratory-housed male Cassin's finches (Carpodacus cassinii) before, during and after brief female exposure following variable periods of isolation from females. We inferred individual reproductive competence from the product of season and reproductive schedule, the latter estimated from moult progress. Males produced little song in the presence of a female but robustly elevated song output in response to female loss. However, mere absence of a female did not elevate song output in males unaccustomed to female proximity. Furthermore, song output in response to female loss increased with her reproductive competence. We suggest that individuals modulate mate-attraction effort based on the benefits such efforts are likely to yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-37
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 22 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird song
  • Courtship
  • Moult
  • Reproductive decisions
  • Reproductive schedule
  • Seasonal breeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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