Phenotypic correlates and survival consequences of male mating success in lek-mating Greater Prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido)

TitlePhenotypic correlates and survival consequences of male mating success in lek-mating Greater Prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsNooker, JK, Sandercock, BK
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Pagination1377 -1388
Accession NumberKNZ001177
KeywordsGalliformes, Life history trade-off, mate choice, reproduction, Sexual selection

Female choice and male–male aggression are two modes of sexual selection that can lead to elaboration of male morphological and behavioral traits. In lek-mating species, male mating success is often strongly skewed, and it is puzzling why variation in male traits is still observed given directional female choice. If male traits correlated with reproductive success are honest signals of male quality, there may be survival costs associated with the expression of those traits. In this study, we examined whether morphological, behavioral, and territorial traits are correlated with male mating success and survival in the lek-mating greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido). We introduce a novel application of multinomial discrete choice models for analysis of female mate choice behavior. We found that behavioral and territorial attributes showed 6.5 times more variability among males than morphological traits. Both display and aggressive behaviors were strong predictors of male mating success, suggesting that both female choice and male–male aggression were important in determining mating success among male greater prairie-chickens. Moreover, annual survival of male prairie-chickens was independent of mating success and male traits. Females appear to be choosing males based on behavioral traits where large variation exists between males (coefficient of variation >30%). Behavioral traits were the most important factor in determining mating success of male prairie-chickens, but the mechanism underlying this relationship is unknown. In the future, experimental manipulations of male hormones or parasite loads could bridge the proximate mechanisms and ultimate consequences of factors mediating male mating success in lek-mating grouse.