[05-07-2010 to 31-08-2010]
$320k NSF Grant
Jeff Graves has been awarded an NSF grant ($320,000) with Jeff Podos (Univ Massachusetts, Amhurst) and Regina Macedo (Univ Brasilia) for a study on "Mating displays in a neotropical songbird: complex mating displays, constraints, trade-offs and reliability".
Dr Graves says "We will focus on the multi-modal mating
displays in the blue-black grassquit (Volatinia jacarina) at a field site in the Brazilian cerrado. These displays
provide information about signaler quality that are thought to be a reliable
guide for female choice. Grassquits are unusual in that males display
repeatedly from specific locations, which will allow us to quantify display
traits under natural conditions. They also nest in close proximity to others
and they have an exceptionally high levels of extra-pair paternity (>50%).
"We will quantify display traits for each male, using optical spectrophotometry,
high-speed videography, and focal and automated audio recording. With these
data we will be able to document display variation among males, and to identify
tradeoffs in display trait expression. We will also measure the extent of malarial
parasitaemia in the birds and assess how display trait variation and trade-offs
impact female choice, measured by genetic paternity analyses. By assessing
multiple display traits under natural conditions, our study promises to provide
novel insights into display mechanisms, reliability, and the proximate bases of
Photos by R Macedo:
- Male grassquit showing under wing display
- Male grassquit leaping display, calling and
showing underwing display patch.
contact: Dr Jeff Graves