Select a Sexy Singer to Fledge Better Young
Abstract from Nature
21st June 1996
A sophisticated study of Great Reed Warblers, published in Nature (381, 229-232), by Dennis Hasselquist, Staffan Bensch and Torbjorn von Schantz has shown just how important song repertoire is for these birds.
They nest close together in reed-beds and the males may have a harem of females. However they are not necessarily faithful to their social mate but may seek to copulate with neighbouring males. They chose those males with larger song repertoires and the question posed was why?
This research used DNA fingerprinting to check that this was so. In addition they were also able to investigate the post-fledging survival of their off-spring. This proved to be better for chicks whose fathers had a larger song repertoire. So, by choosing a sexy singer, the females are getting benefits for their offspring.