Female responses to male coos in the collared dove Streptopelia decaocto
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Birdsong is one of the main models in sexual selection studies. Most investigations focused on oscines in which male song and female preference learning occur. Yet, some non-oscines are well suited for such studies as well. In Columbidae song learning does not occur. However, like in oscines, song is involved in inter- and intra-sexual interactions. Surprisingly, experimental evidence of female song-based preferences are still largely lacking in this group. We conducted playback tests on wild-caught Streptopelia decaocto females. We tested for the sexual function of song by playing decaocto songs versus songs of an unrelated species. We then investigated female responses to trill. Although they do not produce this trait, males react more strongly to artificially trilled decaocto songs, i.e. to conspecific songs in which a trill from a S. roseogrisea song has been inserted, than to normal decaocto songs. We also tested female responses to S. roseogrisea songs. Females flew more often and with a shorter latency during decaocto songs than during wren songs, suggesting that species recognition occurred, but we found no evidence of preference for trilled decaocto songs. The low activity observed during the experiment might have obscured actual preferences. Nevertheless, females consistently reacted more to normal decaocto songs than to trilled decaocto or roseogrisea songs. This contrasts with the strong responses for trilled decaocto songs and the virtual lack of reaction to S. roseogrisea songs observed in males. Thus, female collared doves, as receivers, may have different characteristics from males and impose constraints on the evolution of song.