Rethinking birdsong evolution: meta-analysis of the relationship between song complexity and reproductive success
The theory of sexual selection predicts a relationship between male sexual traits and reproductive success. This prediction has been tested extensively using the complexity of birdsong as a model for trait elaboration. However, contradictory results have emerged. Some studies have demonstrated that males with large repertoires enjoy a reproductive advantage, whereas other studies have failed to support this prediction. To make general inferences from this mixed evidence, we quantitatively reviewed the relevant literature using a meta-analytic approach. The mean effect size for the song/mating success association was significant, but the effects were generally weak, affected by publication bias, confounded by uncontrolled variables, and differing across the traits examined. Effect sizes were heterogeneous across studies due to species-specific effects, differences in mating systems, and song phenotypes. The degree of association between song complexity and reproductive success was independent of the strength of sexual selection, as assessed by the degree of polygyny and extrapair paternity. Our results highlight the importance of considering various biological factors to understand the role of repertoires in mediating mating success in different species. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.
Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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