Hot or not : the effects of exogenous testosterone on female attractiveness to male conspecifics in the budgerigar
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Social Sciences. Instructional and Educational Sciences
Engineering sciences. Technology
, p. 1-11
University of Antwerp
An increasing number of studies indicate that not only females but also males can be selective when choosing a mate. In species exhibiting male or mutual mate choice, females may benefit from being attractive. While male attractiveness is often positively influenced by higher plasma levels of the androgenic hormone testosterone, it has been shown that testosterone can masculinise female behavior and morphology in several bird species, potentially rendering them less attractive. In this study, we investigated whether female budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatus, suffer from increased plasma testosterone levels through a negative effect on their attractiveness to males. We experimentally increased plasma testosterone levels in testosterone-treated females (T-females) compared to controls (C-females) and allowed males to choose between a T- and a C-female in a two-way choice situation. Although testosterone treatment significantly affected female behavioral and morphological characteristics, males did not show a significant difference in preference between T- and C-females. These results suggest that experimentally increasing testosterone levels in females does not appear to influence male preference during initial mate choice. Our findings indicate that selection for higher levels of testosterone in male budgerigars is probably not constrained by a correlated response to selection causing negative effects on female attractiveness during initial mate choice. Evaluating whether or not a potential constraint may arise from negative testosterone-induced effects on other fitness related traits in females requires further work.