Decades of research on sexual imprinting have revealed much about the importance of early contact with parents in shaping the mate preferences of altricial birds. Unfortunately, most experiments have subjected developing birds to long periods of social isolation, an unnatural condition that limits our ability to apply results to evolutionary contexts. Here, I performed experiments on zebra finches reared under semi-natural conditions to investigate the strength of imprinting in polymorphic populations and to elucidate the impact of nutritional stress on imprinting response.
In the first experiment, zebra finches were raised in populations in which none, one-third or two-thirds of adults wore artificial, striped white crests. At maturity, their preferences for this phenotype were measured in mate choice trials. As expected, the strength of male preference for crested females varied directly with the frequency of crested adults in their natal population. Females, however, did not show a frequency-dependent imprinting response. Results indicate that birds reared in polymorphic populations have weaker and more variable imprinting responses than birds reared with restricted social contact.
In my second experiment, I investigated whether the quality of the rearing diet affected the strength of male imprinting responses. Developmental stress can affect other cognitive functions, but its effect on sexual imprinting has not been investigated. Males were raised on diets low or high in protein and exposed to either crested or uncrested adults throughout development. As adults, their mate preferences for crested females were assayed both in mate choice trials and in an assortative pairing experiment. Males from the crested treatment significantly preferred crested females, and the majority of males paired with females matching their maternal phenotype. Diet had no influence on imprinting response though, indicating that this learning process is resistant to this source of stress.
|Advisor:||Burley, Nancy T.|
|Commitee:||Hawkins, Bradford A., Yahr, Pauline I.|
|School:||University of California, Irvine|
|Department:||Biological Sciences - Ph.D.|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Zoology, Behavioral Sciences|
|Keywords:||Developmental stress, Learning, Mate preference, Sexual imprinting, Speciation, Zebra finches|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be